The Life of an Artist: Meet Chris Clark

Meet Chris Clark, a self-taught visual artist from Tallahassee, Florida, working and living in Jacksonville, Florida.  He has created art for most of his life and began his full-time career in the Art industry in 2016. Since then, Clark has had successful solo and group art shows and has received numerous prestigious industry grants.  Most notably, a piece created by Mr. Clark has been selected for display at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum Of Art in South Africa. Clark, who also goes by Cooli Ras Art on social media, is a children’s book author and illustrator as well.  His first children’s book, Glonda’s Hair, was inspired by his oldest daughter, Kaydence, and published in the Fall of 2017. His objective is to target social issues and represent black culture and beauty through his body of work. Clark primarily works with acrylic and mixed media to bring his unique style to life.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Chris and he shared with us the motivation behind his work, his accomplishments, and so much more. 

Revolving Edge: Your work speaks for itself, no doubt you have a gift. Has art always been a full-time passion for you?

Chris:  I’ve been creating art all my life. It’s my hobby, my therapy, my passion, and so much more. Since I was a child, I always knew that I would have a career in the arts. I didn’t know what I would be doing exactly, but I knew it would be art related. After years of working different 9-5’s, I decided in 2016 to take a chance on myself and pursue my art full-time. Choosing to follow my passion was probably the hardest and most rewarding decision I have ever made. I can honestly say it was worth it!

Revolving Edge: Being in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum all the way in South Africa is amazing! A huge accomplishment, congratulations.  How did that come about and how was that experience?

Chris:  Thank you, it’s truly such an honor to have my work exhibited in any space where I can get it out to the people. It’s an even bigger honor to be able to have work shown in a museum dedicated to one of my heroes. We have a show locally in Jacksonville, Florida called Through Our Eyes. Through Our Eyes is an annual showcase featuring some of the most talented artists in Jacksonville’s black arts community. The exhibition is held at The Ritz Theatre and Museum in the historic part of downtown Jacksonville known as Lavilla. It was once hailed as the Harlem of the South.  Last year’s theme was “Journey To South Africa: A Cultural Exchange.” It was a collaboration between Jacksonville African American artists and artists from our Sister City, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. At the closing of the show, some of the artists were chosen to have their work displayed at the museum in South Africa. I was one of the lucky chosen few. The work however has not actually left for South Africa yet, due to some unforeseen issues. It was and still is a great honor to have been chosen to participate in such an amazing exhibit with phenomenal artists, many whom I look up to.

RE:  Did you ever expect art to take you this far? And what are your hopes for your career in art?

Chris:  I never really had any expectations for my art, I just wanted to create and be happy. It’s so amazing to look back and see how far I’ve come in such a short time. It seems like 2016 was just yesterday. I hope to take my career as far as I can and inspire as many people that I can to do the same!

RE: Lastly, what previous shows have you done this past summer and do you have any art shows coming up in the future?

Chris:  I had work featured in two shows this past summer. My work was displayed at the Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center/Visual Arts Gallery in Daytona Beach, FL.  I also had work displayed in an exhibition called, “Breaching The Margins” in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The exhibition is being held at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and runs until Aug 18th.

Chris Clark is an exceptional artist and his work speaks for itself. Please do yourself a favor and follow his work on Instagram @cooli_ras_art.