What She Does: Camella Clements is a local puppeteer with the always excellent Bobbindoctrin troupe. Her latest work was a play called No Soy Marinero, her take on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The puppets in the play were made entirely from flotsam and jetsam that she'd collected on the beaches of Galveston. She also teaches puppetry to middle school students, some of whom have gone on to form their own puppet troupe, Paedarchy Puppets.
In addition, Clements has just opened a women's fashion boutique call La Camella that focuses on apparel, footwear and accessories created by small, independent lines not otherwise carried in the city.
Why She Likes It: Puppetry is one of the oldest arts, thought to have originated some 30,000 years ago. There is evidence of puppets from Ancient Egypt, and the art may even pre-date live acting. Clements enjoys feeling the generations of artists stretching back through time to reach the level and form that she practices today. Like most puppeteers, Clements produces as well as performs the characters, giving her the ability to straddle the line between visual and performing art.
What Inspires Her: "Objects tell stories. Every object has a secret life, and you have to get them to tell you their secrets. Objects that have rich lives inspire me. I'm really into using garbage and organic materials, like bones, teeth, and hair, and totemic little objects that I have been collecting my whole life. The story they tell is so intimate and layered. In my current show, I use a lot of toys that belonged to my mother or grandmother, and little objects that my great-grandmother used or made, like thimbles and lace. Again, it's a way to connect with those who came before me."
If Not This, Then What: Clements considers puppetry to be merely her current medium, and is always learning new forms. Magician or witch would be her first choices of secondary employment.
If Not Here, Then Where: "In space, probably, or the sea.
I really like Houston. We've lived in a lot of places, including New York, which obviously has a booming puppet scene. Houston has an amazing community of artists and a spirit of collaboration, rather than competition. And it's affordable.
My husband, Kevin Taylor, is a very talented and respected puppeteer and theater artist amongst fancy New York theater people, and he is a big influence as well as a big supporter. He has a fantastic sense of play in his work, and he the funniest person I know. He teaches me so, so much. I'm also constantly surrounded by highly creative people, and we really inspire and help each other. That's one of our favorite things about Houston -- the creative community of which we are a part."
What's Next: You can look forward seeing Clements at the Bobbindoctrin Puppet Festival in March, and you can always find her next door to Heights Vinyl at La Camella.
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