Possible Selves: Marsha Clark Constructs Identity

Posted on November 6, 2010 by

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MARSHA CLARK  –  VISUAL ARTIST     [by Gene Campbell]

Coming out of the closet is one of the many facets of identity that Marsha Clark explores in her first solo art exhibition, “Possible Selves.” at the Annex Gallery in the Playhouse on Queen Street, Fredericton.

Clark said of  her coming out process, “Once I got over the hurdle of self-doubt and self-confidence issues, I said ‘to hell with it!, I’m going to be who I am.’ ”

“I struggled with the self-esteem issue for a long time.  I’m not very close to my family anyway.  I sort of thought, it doesn’t matter.  I’ll get around to it”, she said when she spoke of leading up to the decision to come out.  “It takes a lot of energy to keep a secret.  It was just one I wasn’t all that interested in keeping, any more.”  She said she decided to come out in February-past.  “I decided to come out at that time to the world at large.  I had a lot of close friends who knew – for many, it was no revelation.”

She said she has had doubts, however.  The mother of a young daughter, she said “Can I really call myself gay?  Is that allowed where I have had an affair with a man and have a child?”

As an artist, she said of the move, “I think it has enhanced my work.  It has only helped all those things I incorporate in my art, such as photography, drawing and writing.  It involves all those things.”  She said that her being a gay artist has opened up a whole new audience, adding that this has happened “in a community where we (gays) are poorly represented.”

Regarding art, she said, “I’ve been doing it all my life.  Art chose me.  I didn’t choose it.  It’s just something I do.  Everyone has their thing.  I’ve been doing it all my life, but formally, I really started a few years ago.”  Her background training  has taken her to such well-known arts institutes such as Ryerson in Toronto, and Sheridan in Oakville, for various periods of time.  “In Oakville, I was there about three years.  I received training in furniture-making.  I tried to make a future in the trade, but that didn’t work out.  I came back to Fredericton and took some time off, had a baby and got involved in cabinet making.  I liked the work, not the atmosphere, not the sexual harassment.”

A visual artist, she makes collages.  “They are primarily made-up of my own photography, drawing and painting.  I also use found objects.  I am really interested in architecture.  In my art, I isolate different architectural elements, cut them out, put them back together and rebuild houses.  I build new houses.  The house is the common metaphor for life.  The houses I build are built through different stages of life.”

She said, “Since first coming out, my work has been really self-reflective.  I work out a lot of issues I have about myself.  I think a lot of artists go through that.  The work is out there, it applies to everybody.”

The show at the Playhouse, which opened on October 1, runs to November 15.  It is her first solo exhibit, although her work has appeared in several group shows.  “I have six pieces in the show.  They are mid-scale, and they fill up the wall nicely.”  She has a studio in her down-town apartment.  “I  spend about 20 hours a week there – if I’m getting ready for a show – a lot less time, if I’m not.  It’s increasing now, ’cause I’ve caught the bug.”

She works part-time at historic St. Paul’s United Church, as a caretaker.  “I love it.  It’s just butch enough that I like it, but not enough that I can’t handle it.  In my spare time, I take care of my daughter.  I like biking and reading.    I read a lot, and have coffee with my friends.”

If you would like to learn more about Marsha’s work, maybe add one of her pieces to your own collection, or perhaps arrange a showing in another Maritime community, or perhaps you would just like to meet her and get together for a coffee and talk – believe me, it’s worth the time – then she can be reached at marsha.m.clark@gmail.com, or be phoning 472-5806.

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Posted in: QTC