Must see art show: “Something In-between” by Jordan Clarke

Originally posted on: 2011/08/08

I distinctly remember when I first saw Jordan’s work in Other Tongues : Mixed Race Women Speak Out“. I was stunned not only by her undeniable talent & technical skill, but also by the powerful message she was conveying through her paintings. As you can imagine, I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview her, as well as share that she has an upcoming exhibition! Interview & details below:

What: “Something In-between”
Who: Jordan Clarke
When: September 6th-25th, 2011
Where: Hang Man Gallery in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Details: The opening reception is on Thursday, September 8th from 7-9pm (see flyer @ end of post).

“Nothing is just black or white” 30″x40″ oil on canvas, 2008 – Photo courtesy of Jordan Clarke

1. What is your mix and how do you identify?
My mix is black and white, Bajan and Canadian. My dad was born in Barbados and my mom in Canada. I identify as a biracial Canadian woman.

 2. In your experience, does the way you identify tend to match how others perceive you? If so/not, how do you feel about it?
I find that people will always perceive me slightly different than how I see myself. Growing up my identity was shaped by the people I hung around with. During high school my circle of friends was mostly black. For the most part I was perceived as black and I accepted how I was identified by my peers. At this time in my life it doesn’t bother me all that much, I feel confident enough now to know who I am.

“Oneness” 24″x36″ oil on canvas, 2011 – Photo courtesy of Jordan Clarke

3. How do you use your art to express your experience as a woman of mixed heritage?
My art has become an important exploration of self. Not until working on this series did I ever really stop to think and question my identity. The series started in 2008 with a painting titled “nothing is just black or white”. The title speaks to the idea of having to side with a particular racial group. Since that painting I’ve been developing the series further. My paintings question identity and all the contradictions that come with being mixed-race. Feeling the need to fit into or belong to a particular racial group, or being pigeon-holed by society. I recently finished painting the last piece in a series for my art show, “Something In-between”, which will be featured this September at Hang Man Gallery in Toronto. The paintings have come around full circle. Through the process I’ve discovered a sense of oneness, I now see myself as whole.

 4. In particular, what is the message you are trying to convey in your “Mask Series”?
Because the series started off as an exploration of sorts, I wasn’t intentionally trying to bring a particular message forward.  However, I would like my work to convey mixed heritage as complex, deep, rich, and BEAUTIFUL. I hope that the viewer sees the honesty in my paintings.

“Something In-between” 30″x36″ oil on canvas, 2011 – Photo courtesy of Jordan Clarke

 5. What responses have you received regarding the “Mask Series”?
The one response that stands out the most for me was from a mixed-race young man who was at my last art show, which was the beginnings of the “Mask” evolution. He came up to me and said that my work really touched him, as he was also starting to question his identity. His response to the paintings not only demonstrated the importance of this subject matter, but I also found it comforting to know that someone else felt just like me.

6. Can you describe a difficult experience that stemmed from being mixed-race?
We would put on a play every year for Black History month during high school. One particular year during try-outs for the acting roles, I was told by a friend that I wasn’t “black enough” to participate. This comment hurt and offended me.

7. What about a positive experience?
Believe it or not, it wasn’t until last year at a book launch for ‘Other Tongues’, an anthology by mixed-race women, that I had ever been in a room full of other mixed-race sisters. Through storytelling and sharing of similar experiences, I felt as though we had all known each other for years. The room was full of positive energy. This experience was the first time I thought about my mixed-race background and felt an overwhelming amount of pride.

8. Is there something you’d like to say to other mixed race artists / Canadians out there?
Share your experiences with the world! Mixed-race is the new race :)

Thanks to Jordan for sharing her story. If you’re in Toronto this September, make sure to check out her show and support a fellow mixie!

Also worth noting – Jordan has a FaceBook page and is featured on Mixed in Canada in the “Visual Arts” section.  

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