Clarke’s father traced her passion for art and poetry back to childhood. “Well, I can say that she used to do all sorts of artwork,” he said. “In fact, when she was 9 years old, she wrote and read a poem at the MOMA [Museum of Modern Art].”
A dichotomous person
Fluent in four languages, including Italian, French and Hebrew, in addition to her native English, Clarke is culturally experienced. She has lived on and off in Italy, where she studied in Florence, and has traveled in Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
Before her career as an art therapist, Clarke studied textile and surface design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, specializing in weaving. After spending a short time in the fashion industry, Clarke came to two realizations: first, that she could not stand to become a lonely, career-driven woman of the fashion world; second, that she had to go back to school.
She received her master’s degree in creative arts therapy at Hofstra University. “I think what’s great about art therapy is that it gets in there much quicker,” said Clarke. “With traditional psychotherapy, which, of course, I’m qualified to do and licensed to do, you can intellectualize your feelings. It takes a while, but the art puts it out there, whether you like it or not.”
Clarke’s early artwork, as published in her book “Tea with Nana” in 2009, is abstract and potent with color. The series of paintings and poems focuses mainly on the different aspects and archetypes of women.
The art she produced in her series, “Inner Face,” draws on the trials and tribulations she faced as an art therapist. To pay homage to her patients’ hardships, Clarke created work after nearly every session. She began creating abstract pieces of her patients’ faces, titling them with each patient’s diagnostic code. A piece from this series appeared on the cover of Rattle, an ad-free print publication of poetry, prose and art, in 2010.
Straying from the loose, blended nature of her old work, Clarke began her series “Freya’s Tears.”