Marsha Hatcher, a South Georgia born visual artist, has lived and created in Jacksonville for the past 25 years. With the preferred mediums of acrylics, oils, and sometimes wood, Hatcher paints expressionistic portraits that adroitly capture a range of gripping emotions conveyed through the faces and bodies of black children, women, and men. Her work will be on exhibit in Through Our Eyes 2018, which opens with Family Fun Day on Saturday, February 3 at the Ritz Theatre and Museum in Jacksonville's historic neighborhood of LaVilla.
2018 marks the 25th anniversary of Through Our Eyes. The group show was the first time Hatcher exhibited her work in Jacksonville after moving to the city in 1989. Since rooting herself in Northeast Florida, she has submitted work for exhibition to 20 of the 25 years that the show has been in production.
Hatcher is part of The Art Center Cooperative, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation that provides the Jacksonville community with a focused group of emerging and professional artists in search of excellence and recognition at their craft. You can visit the cooperative's gallery located in the Jacksonville Landing to see more of Hatcher's work on exhibit.
10 Questions with Marsha Hatcher
Do you have any patterns, routines, or habits when starting a new project?
The only thing that I can think of that I routinely do before I start a new project is to decide what medium I want to use, what style to use, plus visualizing the end results.
What have you learned about yourself through your artistic and cultural endeavors?
I have learned that I am a little too much of a perfectionist when it comes to my art. It needs to be the right size, have the right colors, and it needs to be framed and displayed properly.
How do you define success in what you do?
Every time I am asked this question about success my answer varies. I think most artists, including myself, would consider themselves successful as an artist when they are actually living well as a full time artist and not relying on a “day” job.
Do you remember your first interaction with art? When did you decide you wanted to become an artist?
I was born to be an artist. Art is the only thing I have consistently done my entire life. I can remember my love for drawing as a child. Drawing came natural to me as if it was what I was supposed to do. The desire to create has never wavered.
What’s your philosophy on the nature of the portrait? What do you think it fulfills within society and what should its purpose be?
I can’t claim to know a lot about the art of portraits, and I don’t entirely know why I gravitate towards portraits - but that seems to be my preference. It could have a lot to do with the shyness I dealt with as both a child and a young adult. The people I created understood me and did not need to speak. However, I think the portrait is a creative way to document the existence of an individual; a creative visual reminder of who was here.
What does it mean to you to be one of 27 artists participating in the show for its 25th Anniversary and how many years total have you participated in the exhibit?
My family moved to Jacksonville in 1989 and one of the first snows I was asked to participate in was Through Our Eyes in 1994. I have participated in the exhibit every year since. It means a lot to be a part of what has become an annual event for this city and community and showcasing my art to the people in this community who have always appreciated it. Out of 25 years of Through Our Eyes, I have exhibited in at least 20 of them.
As a black artist, how do you advocate for arts organizations and galleries to look beyond just extending opportunities to black artists during the month of February? Additionally, how can Jacksonville's arts community better incorporate its abounding black art community?
Every artist is an advocate, whether they want to be or not, and I have definitely done my share. The community has improved a lot over the years as it relates to the art and and black artists, but there is always room for improvement. The best I can do to help this community is to continuously create quality artwork that demands respect, opportunity, and inclusion. The best Jacksonville can do for its black artists is to extend them the same opportunities as other artists in the city.
You are currently working on a series titled 100 Faces. What is the origin of 100 Faces and how has it developed over time?
My friend taught me that Kickstarter launched a Make/100 initiative. I thought I would give it a try and I have already completed at least 50 paintings. I started making paint spots, like Rorschach’s test but with paint, and every time I made one I saw faces of people, animals, and really weird creatures. My main purpose was to see if others could see what I saw so I took it to my Facebook page to get others involved.
I have noticed that they are evolving over time. It’s been a lot of fun receiving feedback from friends and family. The plan is to eventually create a book of all the Faces with quotes from others about what they saw.
What is the greatest challenge(s) you face as an artist working in Northeast Florida?
My greatest challenge, here or anywhere, is me. I can get in my own way sometime when it comes to promoting my art. I will confess, I am not a fan of the business side of art. I don't like the “paperwork” involved, the application process, the bio’s, artist statements, etc. I just want to do art - end of story.
What would you like to see as an effort to support and grow Jacksonville's arts and cultural sector?
Jacksonville has some really talented artists; some known and many unknown. The city should make a conscience effort of looking “in house” when it comes to local public art initiatives. There needs to me more dialogue between artists and the city when it come to art and culture. Plus, more opportunities to showcase “home grown” talent.