Nobody encompasses the quintessential Capitol Hill artist quite like Emily Marie Clark. Her warmth puts everyone around her at ease, as if you were longtime friends. She casually props her feet up on the bench underneath her 15-piece collection and smiles.
“I wear moccasin boots and drink summer beers- that’s me,” exclaims Clark as she takes a swig of her Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale. Her almost fully sleeved arm is a blur of colors as she excitedly points out her pieces on the wall of Scratch Deli on 12th and Howell. Emily’s energetic spirit is a stark contrast to the intricate black, white, and gray drawings in front of us. When I question how she was able to capture such precise and delicate detail, she replies with: “It’s called neurosis. That’s where all my craziness goes!”
Only 24 years old, Clarks drawings are like nothing I’ve seen before. A web of shapes are visually sewn together, creating a cohesive image that draws you in, revealing new nuances the longer you look. Each drawing is either mounted on a beautiful handmade frame from her roommate, Chris Proctor, or adhered to Oak or Maple using acrylic, giving it a glossy sheen that highlights the gray tones underneath.
“No pencils, I despise those things,” Clark explains regarding her tool choice. “Strictly micron ink pens–I’m a one trick pony.”
It was very obvious this collection was extremely personal for Emily. We discussed her work and how her first showing at Ghost Gallery has changed her life for the better.
“Laurie Kearney (Ghost Gallery founder) gave me a pop-up show and made it so special. It was one of the best nights I have experienced in my adult life. I felt so special and so loved. I couldn’t believe it. Showing is hard; you’re putting your skill set and your feelings out for people to see. It was overwhelming! I sold five pieces that night at my first show and literally cried.”
Tell me about this collection, where did your inspiration come from?
“I started this about two years ago and I was going through a really dark time. I was going through a breakup, depressed, drinking and self-destructive… this show helped pull me out of my head. I would draw for like seven hours instead of going out. And this is what came from it. This was a manifestation of a really big transition in my life.”
Clark exuberantly gestures to the paintings behind her.
“And it’s been evolving, it’s been evolving every day. I’m neurotic. I’m now starting to produce things on a larger scale. I really want to do a mural but just need to find a person or place that will let me!”
How has living in Capitol Hill influenced or affected your work?
It’s provided me with a really big pool of very talented people. Everywhere you look, everyone on the Hill is doing something cool whether it’s videography, music, etc. I’ve met so many talented people and other creative people to collaborate with.
How would you categorize your art and what’s your process like?
Intricate free hand geometric line drawings. First, I cut the paper, start in the corners, and it just goes. It’s hard to describe. A lot of them are very busy and full and I love that part of it. Once I’m done with the paper drawing, I won’t look at it for a week and a half. But when I come back to it, I’m always stoked on them. Then I take pieces of wood and either seal it, glue it, or use epoxy. I’ll add acrylic paint to the top of it if I think it needs it. I’ve never used a straight edge for anything. I used a ruler, it would be perfect. But my life isn’t perfect, my process isn’t perfect… I try to keep it real, girl!
Who has been your inspiration artistically?
“I need to give Aaron Benson [her boyfriend] a lot of credit. He pushes me to be a better artist. He asks me questions about how I do things and when I saw him making so much music and being productive, it made me want to have my stuff out there and be real. Not have it be something I do at home with the door shut where nobody could see it. He’s a very special person. He makes me want to be a better artist–every day.” [Benson is part of local bands Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground, Wild Orchid Children, and Tilson XOXO]
Emily bounds up out of her seat to grab another beer and engages in friendly banter with the employees of the cafe. Whipping her head back in my direction, she exudes a childish passion for life muddled with wisdom beyond her years.
“No matter what age you are, you’re too young you hate your job,” says Clark. “No matter how scary, to leave the comfort of money for something that makes you a lot happier, is something I think everyone should do at least once in your life.”
“This End Up” will be on the wall at Scratch Deli until October. Coming in December, Cafe Vita will display a 30 piece collection by Emily Marie Clark.
For more info, visit www.emcldraws.com
1718 12th Ave