Kandice Clark was born and raised in Jacksonville. In her adult life, Clark has worked as an employee in the corporate world, holding jobs in the beauty industry and with financial institutions. Clark found that a certain part of her was left feeling unfulfilled no matter how well she performed in those settings. This led Clark to reflect on her path and contemplate what professional endeavors would support her pursuit of self actualization.
Clark, who is married to visual artist Christopher Clark, is crafting a life that is creative, eclectic, and vibrant. It is Clark's objective to have the benefits of her efforts extend beyond herself. She is working to grow a community and better connect creatives of all disciplines in this massive geographic city she calls home. Clark, who operates under the name Zenslayfu, a persona given to her by a friend, is immediately focused on Jacksonville's emerging artists and how she as an individual can serve this growing community by providing direction and opportunities for development and exposure.
The fruit of Clark's effort will be visible to the public on Saturday, July 8 in the form of a collective art exhibit titled "Black Opal." Clark served as curator of the show, which will be hosted by The 5 & Dime in downtown Jacksonville. "Black Opal" features the work by several previous 10 questions interviewees, including Jasmine Dukes and Christa Fatoumata Sylla.
Clark is also a newly appointed co-host of the Cultural Council's Every Single Artist Lounge. You are invited to join Clark, along with her fellow co-hosts Mal Jones and Toni Smailagic on the second Tuesday of every month to participate in an informal networking event. The meetup is open to artists, creatives, and arts professionals of all disciplines and career levels. July's lounge, which is scheduled for Tuesday, July 11, will be held at BABS' LABS in CoRK Arts District.
10 Questions with Kandice Clark
What is the origin of "Black Opal" and how did it come to exist?
"Black Opal" is an art show that I have thought about for a long time. The idea has had many names until one day I was researching stones. I was reading about the black opal it noticed that its features mirrored the characteristics of art and artists. Much like art, the black opal displays a full spectrum of vibrant colors, it is also one of the rarest stones.
I chose the name "Black Opal" to represent the colors that artist use in their art. I chose the name to represent the many faces of the artists themselves.
"Black Opal" ultimately came to be because I personally am ready for my role in the arts community to grow exponentially.
What have you learned about yourself by serving in a curatorial role?
Through this experience I have learned that I was previously slowing myself down. I could have realized many of my creative goals before this moment, if it weren't for having doubts and fearing failure. I will never do that again. My newfound confidence is not only motivation for myself but many people around me, as well. I have also decided to pursue more of my creative goals, both through direct experiences and formal education.
What do you hope audiences will take away from the show?
My biggest hope is that the audience meets artists that, before the show, they did not know. I want everyone attending to leave with an urge to learn more about the people they met and whose work they saw. If they are creatives themselves, I hope they feel inspired to grow artistically and to be more active in the creative community. I also hope that they look forward to more events like "Black Opal"!
How did you get connected with The 5 & Dime? Additionally, can you provide some examples of how this collaboration has been mutually beneficial to both you and them?
There is power in reaching out and asking! My connection with The 5 & Dime started as an inquiry. The theatre's Director, Lee Hamby, was excited that I wanted to host an art show and he loved the mission behind it. Lee is amazing. He is so helpful and has a magnetic personality. I am truly grateful that he allowed me this opportunity.
This collaboration has given the participating artists and myself a platform to display our work and passions. It has also helped to build relationships amongst artists, creatives, and organizations. For The 5 & Dime, it has brought, and will continue to bring, an audience into the theatre who otherwise may have not walked through their doors. I hope that this event leads to the theatre hosting additional creative events and collaborations with people who are just discovering them.
How do you think we as a community can make the arts more inclusive and provide development and exposure opportunities for emerging artists and arts professionals of diverse backgrounds?
It's simple, make them feel comfortable! Having showcases concentrating on different cultures, levels, backgrounds, and mediums will help find emerging artists and artists who may feel that their art is not "the standard." Artists need to know their art will be accepted, appreciated, and that there is an audience for their work. Focused showcases can be used like welcoming parties for artists to the arts community. Such shows can introduce emerging artists to creative leaders and others in the community who share their background or specialties.
Where do you hope this experience leads, not just for you but the creative community as a whole?
I hope that this experience leads the creative community to embrace more artists regardless of their "skill level", popularity, or style of art. There are many talented and developing artists here in Jacksonville who feel overlooked and/or pushed out of established creative circles.
I hope the participating artists leave this experience feeling inspired and motivated, just as they have done for me.
As for myself, I hope this experience is just the first of many! I already have new ideas forming as a result of this experience.
How do you define Jacksonville's culture and identity, and how do you think the arts can help promote that identity?
I honestly believe Jacksonville is still searching for a sense of identity and culture. We are ever growing but have many miles to go. It seems we are definitely going towards a more art focused culture, which is very exciting. I'd love to see Jacksonville embrace the many different cultures and communities that we have, because everything is not simply black and white.
How do you define the artist's role in society?
I believe the artist's role in our society is to teach us that we CAN be ourselves, and that our passions can be our careers. We live in a world that tells us how to think and encourages us to be the same. Artists, and other creatives, often break the mold by being original, fresh, eclectic and creating work around alternative views that make us think. The artist's role as a teacher can give others the confidence to follow their dreams, and not a cookie cutter dream that was given to them. Artists can teach us so much if we just pay attention.
What do you feel contributes to a memorable, engaging, and impactful experience as it relates to the arts?
Freshness. We all crave new experiences, meeting new people, and going places we've never been, literally and figuratively. Something you've seen a dozen times isn't as memorable as something new that stands out. Keeping new subjects, faces, and ideas in the arts helps it to be more impactful and keeps our audiences and creators engaged.
What would you like to see in Jacksonville to support growth of the city’s creative economy?
I’d love to see the art communities grow throughout Jacksonville. I imagine the city’s creative economy is stifled partially due to the distance of popular arts and culture venues. Growth can be made by making creative outlets more accessible throughout the city. This can help stimulate the artist community but also creates new jobs and leads to more active participants. It is equally important to have outreach programs for our youth and to educate them on the business of art. They are the next creative professionals, pioneers, and consumers of the arts.