January 2022

January 2022’s Mom


Carmen Clark Teaches Art for Life

Suki Wessling

Welcome back to our monthly feature of moms who give back to our community while also raising their children. Research shows that even in families where both spouses are involved, women face more obstacles while attempting to juggle parenting and work. We love to celebrate you, moms!

You know it’s serious when they devote a whole room to art.

When Carmen Clark, 42, a classroom aide and owner of Crooked Beauty in Felton, moved into a new home with her husband, Aaron Clark, co-owner of Bro Prints, she had one firm request: their dining room would be dedicated to making art.

Her two kids, Esperanza and Ivan (19 and 14), grew up in a house with paint on the wall-to-wall carpet—they and their friends loved it.

“We kind of had Waldorf here at home,” Carmen says, explaining that while she was educated in the Waldorf method, her own kids went to public school.
And that’s where Carmen has been as an adult, too. She has worked for years as an instructional aide for the County Office of Education, teaching art and supporting students with special needs.

“I was raised with a strong sense of service,” Carmen explains. “My first teaching job was at a private school, and I realized I really prefer the underserved and marginalized.”

Carmen takes that sense of service into her business, an art store and maker space. 
“It’s the culmination of my entire life,” Carmen says. “I didn’t consider myself an artist. When I was younger, I had a narrow mindset, partly because I was surrounded by talented artists and I was always pitting myself against them and judging myself.”

Carmen points out that when you ask kindergarteners who is an artist, they all raise their hands. But by fourth grade, the kids point to the one or two who have been labeled the “good” artists. Carmen wants to serve all artists who walk in her door, whether they are children ready to explore, adults wanting to get in touch with the child artist they were, or people with special needs of any kind.

“As an instructional aide in special education, I realized how segregated that population is from the rest of us and that’s heartbreaking! The more diverse a community and the more we celebrate those diversities, the stronger we are.”
Anyone, Carmen firmly believes, can be an artist.

“I think there’s a misconception with art that in order to be labeled an artist you have to have some innate talent, that you just pick up a pencil and you’re da Vinci, Picasso, or Frida Kahlo,” Carmen says. “That’s just not true. Any dedicated artist will tell you how many hours they spent honing their craft.”

Carmen herself has spent countless hours on her own craft—and on making her business a welcoming place. She wants it to be a place where people are inspired, where their work and self-expression are valued, and where no one is worried about dropping paint on the floor.

Why does she continue taking on new challenges, including getting her bachelor’s degree in her forties?

“I think I get bored really easily! And I love learning, finding out what’s next—what more can I do? I’m not ever satisfied with a schedule that is the same day in and out.”

Visit Crooked Beauty at CrookedBeautyArt.com.
Listen to a podcast of this interview: tinyurl.com/CarmenClarkGrowingUp 

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