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RD of Lammers displays work in Arno Maris Gallery



  • Because residents in the Apartment Complex recently had things stolen from their rooms, Residential Life stresses the importance of locking your doors. photo by Westfield State for the Westfield Voice

Around the Westfield State campus, he is known as the Resident Director of Lammers Hall. But soon, the WSU community will recognize Omarthan Clarke’s name for more than just his duty to Residential Life.

Clarke, who earned his BFA from Westfield State in 2007, is presenting his artwork in a new exhibit called “Nostalgia: It’s Not Always Black and White.” The exhibit will be shown in the Arno Maris Gallery until March 2nd.

Clarke discovered his passion for art at an early age. Growing up in the inner city of Springfield, he said that to keep occupied, he had to get creative. He picked up a pencil and he never stopped.

Clarke knew that he wanted to pursue a career in art, but he also knew that he did not want to go down the “starving artist” route. In his junior year at Westfield State, Clarke decided to pursue a career in art education.

“The courses at Westfield helped to provide the knowledge of past and current practices in the Arts and Education,” Clarke said. “With that, I felt a strong connection to the mission of educating the youth through visual arts.”

In 2009, Clarke was awarded the chance to become a solo artist. Dr. Christina Swaidan of the art department challenged him to create work that would illustrate the “African American double-consciousness.” The exhibit, called the “The Seventh Son: Two Unreconciled Strivings,” displayed at the Westfield State Downtown Rinova art gallery in September 2009.

Since then, Clarke has had his art shown at many different exhibits and festivals, including The Springfield PULSE Art Space, The Northampton Festival for the Arts, and the Indian Orchard Hills Annual Fall Art Exhibition. In 2011, Clarke’s work was featured in a student-run event at Westfield State University. The exhibit was called “Soul Café.”

“[Soul Café] was a youthful/trendy celebration of the soulful forms of expression that is birthed from the inner-city. My submissions were a fraction of the beautiful montage of performances,” Clarke said.

Nostalgia is completely Clarke’s work. Each piece depicts his views and life experiences. All of the pieces in the exhibit are oil paint on canvas- Clarke’s preferred medium.

According to Clarke, this exhibition was inspired by his “reflection upon a series of phases in my life that have deeply impacted my current outlook on daily life.”

Clarke wishes viewers to see his work as a representation of his “unique experience as a man of African descent.”

“This title and exhibition is a result of me coming to terms with the fact that not all impactful experiences can be dissected and/or clearly interpreted. It’s not always ‘black and white,'” he said.

Clarke said that beyond promoting study and critical thinking when it comes to the arts, one of the other initiatives for his exhibition is to celebrate Black History Month. On the right side of the gallery is the work in which Clarke reflects upon the “Black Experience.”

One of the pieces titled “Black is the Color” is a tribute to singer/songwriter and civil rights activist, Nina Simone. By creating this piece, Clarke said that he is “recognizing her beautiful music and inspiring acts of advocacy.”

Omar Clarke creates all these pieces of work in the living room of his apartment in Lammers. Clarke said that his job does not interfere with creating his art.

“One of the many benefits to being a member of the Westfield State community and the Department of Residential Life is the amount of flexibility provided for professional development and community involvement,” he said. “With my duties clearly held as my highest priority, I have been successfully managing both.”


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