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Open Mind

The Art of Naomi Clark

Naomi Clark embarked on her artistic journey by thinking outside the box, literally. An avid snow boarder from Colorado, she started college with an industrial design major but when she botched her box making assignment twice she decided, “I don’t think that precision work is where I was meant to be.” This change in focus led her to a major in painting at the University of Colorado, Boulder and opened up a whole new world. “Painting immediately felt like home,” Clark explains, “I love the freedom and expression, color and lack of boundaries.” She continued with a graduate degree at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and spread her wings and canvases from painting murals on her walls to reinventing paintings as household objects. 

Clark even had the chance to recreate a Victoria’s Secret store as an art installation. A 1980’s mall in South Street Seaport was set to be demolished after flooding from Hurricane Sandy and artists were invited to transform the different stores into their own visions. “I was given the store which was 10,000 square feet with pink carpet,” she says, “I painted the whole thing: the ceiling, the floors, the check-out counter and built different installations. It was so funny to walk into this mall and then having this totally different experience.”

For Clark her art also expresses her life philosophy. “I love what creativity does for the brain. It opens up physically and metaphorically another part of our brain. As adults we tend to ignore that. When we are open ended and abstract, we see through our intuition and feelings as well as our eyes. Abstraction is a gateway to living intuitively and emotionally. My expression is part of learning to live very openly and empathetically and when people see my work, I hope they can see and feel some of that.”

Painting has been a road to many different projects for Clark. With her friends Nana Spears and Noah Spencer she formed New York-based Fort Makers in 2008, “a playful, multidisciplinary and immersive art brand,” which features hand-made objects across different disciplines, everything from furniture to table top to jewelry to lighting to textiles. “We had a mutual love for looking at objects as art and through many different lenses from what we wear to what we live with,” Clark comments. The artistic collaboration includes design partnerships, stage and interiors. 

Clark thinks not only out of the box but out of the gallery. After living in Colorado with “about one week of greenery,” she found great solace in the lushness of the East End including the water. “I like to take artwork out to the Sound and find different ways to float things and photograph them.” Having support as an artist is also a key to success and aside from finding her audience on social media she also takes a “boots on the ground” approach to connect in person with other artists and shows. Gallerist Jonathan Weiskopf of VSOP Projects in Greenport discovered her work and became a great resource. Clark comments, “He has a wide breadth of work he shows. He is an art enthusiast and art professional and an artist. He sees it through all those different lenses.” For her show at his gallery at 311 Front Street which runs October 1 to November 13, she will display different forms of work from paintings to water mobiles to painted fabric as well as pop-up installations around Greenport.

To achieve goals as an artist Clark acknowledges a deep sense of intentionality. She abides by the adage, “creativity shouldn’t be left for the stolen moments.” She says, “I make art in my life a priority, not something I get to after everything else is done. We have all these things to do, tasks to perform and we forget to nurture our creative side. I hope my work can help people to do that.”