Art is a visual language, complicated with its own syntax, grammar and vocabulary — but simple with emotion. For decades, artist Roberta Marks creates works that speak to her audience in surprising ways and she has been very successful at it. Beginning on Friday, April 8, the Key West Art and Historical Society will present “Roberta Marks: A Retrospective,” at The Custom House, with more than 50 works of art spanning 40 years of her illustrious career.
Marks, a Florida native and Key West resident since 1981, has exhibited her art in galleries, universities and museums throughout the United States and Europe. She has also influenced the art world as a dedicated teacher, and as a local favorite at The Studios Of Key West. She said her prolific career has taken her around the globe and has been guided by her dedication to Buddhism, the process of letting go and living in the moment guiding her images.
“I use a lot of things becoming extinct, I want to hold on to the past but I also want to revere it,” said Marks referring to the old suitcases, clocks, antique books and pictures she combines together in a precise and meticulous manner. Looking at her constructions becomes a mesmerizing foray into Marks’s creative process and personal fascinations, “I work with the energy of other people’s leftovers.”
At first inspection, Marks’s work invokes a curious excitement similar to finding a hidden treasure chest or a dusty attic filled with artifacts. It is not just a journey through history but a personal story filled with love, loss, and occasionally the wryest sense of humor. Mixing found objects, paint, canvas, and paper, Marks builds artwork that engage a sense of familiarity. “I show my work because I want to help people.”
In doing so, she is crafting her own history that is not so dissimilar to others. Marks transforms shared cultural artifacts into chapters telling her story as a whole. In that way, she forms as a connection with her audience, without words, rather images filled with meaning.
Michael Gieda, Executive Director of the Custom House, calls Marks a natural fit for the museum. “Roberta has had a long and highly successful career as an artist. Residing in Key West, she is part of the artistic tradition and community that makes the island so special and unique.”
Roberta Marks: Retrospective will be open Friday, April 8 with a special reception from 6-7:30 p.m. and will be on display until June 7. Visit KWAH.org for more information.
“ I teach through my own experiences and impart the idea of transformation.”
— Robert Marks