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Clay Rice is described by author Pat Conroy as a “great talent who combines soul and passion.” Hand cut silhouettes and storytelling have been in his family for almost a century. His grandfather, Carew Rice, was described by Poet Carl Sandburg as “America’s Greatest Silhouettist” and traveled worldwide, sharing his mesmerizing cutouts with delighted customers.
Each profile silhouette takes Clay about 1 minute and he estimates that in his 40 year career, he has cut over ONE MILLION profile silhouettes. Clay’s nationwide following has families flocking to have this talented artist create keepsake silhouettes and to have him sign copies of his award-winning children’s book, The Lonely Shadow.
His work has been featured in Country Living, Washington Times, Atlanta Constitution, Cookie Magazine, Southern Living Magazine, and Garden and Gun and has appeared in the CBS series Army Wives. Clay is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, the IPPY Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, and is a Kirkus prize nominee.
Clay’s landscape scenes and children’s illustrations are sought after by collectors worldwide and his work is on permanent display at the South Carolina State Museum.
Clay’s career as a professional silhouette artist began in 1982, after returning home from Nashville, TN, where he had been an aspiring songwriter. “I got tired of all the autograph seekers and had to get out of there,” he said in an interview, “plus I needed extra money to buy a new tire for my car.”
His grandfather’s presence in the Lowcountry was still very much evident through his art that hung in many households and museums, and Clay decided to take a summer job cutting silhouettes. “It was something I was always able to do, and I knew I had something to fall back on if the music career didn’t work out.” That fall he called on gift shops and boutiques, plying his trade throughout the region, and eventually the nation, and Clay became the top silhouette profile artist in the United States, with a whirlwind event schedule that currently encompasses over 200 events per year in 35 states.
Clay, like his grandfather Carew, believes that the true masters of hand cut silhouettes do not limit their work to profiles of people. As evidenced in his low country and landscape scenes, as well as his sublimely illustrated children’s books, that mastery is obvious. From the beginning of his professional career, he pushed the limits of his families art, with the notion that EVERYTHING has a silhouette. His cutouts became more and more elaborate as he developed his own style, all the while holding true to his grandfather’s pioneering work.