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Quantum Intuition on a Tangential Path: Athlone Clarke Exhibition Recap

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

Authenticity permeates the work and life of Athlone Clarke. A visual journal of his mood and experience at a particular moment, Clarke's mixed media pieces offer viewers not only an aesthetic experience, but also a deeply personal connection to the artist himself.

"Art for me is something that is life transforming. It is my healer; it is my wife; it is also my mistress; it is also my friend. At times, it feels like my adversary."

A Jamaican immigrant, Athlone moved to the United States in the mid-eighties, and, as he describes it, was able to make a living by pursuing his passions--one of which was writing. However, he found himself drawn to visual arts. His unique mixed media pieces are a marriage between his writing, his visual work, and his constant experimentation--the lifeblood of his work.

"Image Made of Concepts"

This experimentation pushes Clarke to create work that will surprise to himself as well as the viewer. As a mixed media artist, Athlone ingrains meaning into his work with each deliberate choice of word, mark, and object. The marriage of writing allows Clarke to communicate instantly with his audience as he explains, "When I write on my paintings, it creates kind of a portal to pull the viewer in and also to explain what might have been my inspiration behind the piece at the time I'm creating it."

The intention with which Athlone imbues his writings transfers to the objects embedded in each piece; for Athlone, objects hold memory, power, and energy and sit in his studio--sometimes for years--until he knows that a particular item is to find new life in his work. The entities used in his work are those which have served and developed a personality themselves. He explains, "Each object has its own story. What is required is the ability to put aside cynicism and learn to listen to the silence with intention. This helps me to avoid the temptation of just throwing random objects together. I try to interpret the tactile experience as I study each object, some which have been in my studio for decades and waiting for its moment. I’ll find a single object from the sixties Civil Rights movement, maybe a button or a sign, and I’ll try to interpret its story and hopefully contract a piece that I believe will pull the view deep into that particular moment of history."

"Based on a True Story"

A Poem on the Bible Belt, one of the fifteen pieces on display in the Museum Gallery, features aged leather belts, cotton, a padlock, an old photograph, wire, and more--all objects which speak to life in the Bible Belt and the history of that area. The interpretation of those objects, however, is up to the viewer, and it is the audience's choice whether or not to explore a certain piece beyond the aesthetics.

Detail of "A Poem on the Bible Belt"

"The aesthetics pull you in, but once you're in, you can choose to go through the portal or not."

Some viewers may decide to simply enjoy this work for the aesthetics. Going through the portal and experiencing a full interpretation of the piece can be uncomfortable to say the least. Clarke's exhibition presents us with difficult subjects--racism, violence, isolation, loss, but, to Clarke, this is an integral part of being and working as an artist.

Detail of "Based on a True Story"

"I think it's very important for me as an artist to be able to go to the edge of the abyss and look into the darkness and sometimes bring back the stories or the images that I see. It's not always pretty; sometimes they can be very disturbing to the spirit. But art is not supposed to always be about making people comfortable or relaxed. Sometimes it has to do with shaking people from their comfort zone."

Detail of "Bent but Never Broken III"

Powerful imagery and composition combine in Clarke's pieces to challenge the viewer to reckon with themselves and the world in which they live. Dear America II, a collaboration between Clarke and his wife, Alyce, features Native American imagery across a desert background done by Athlone. The main imagery of the piece was created by Alyce, an American Indian from the Navajo Nation. This piece, and those done solely by Athlone, confront viewers with a narrative which can be difficult, but necessary, to explore.

"Dear America II"

However, the walls of the Museum Gallery are not filled completely with hopeless struggle. Again the Phoenix rises like smoke from a Stick of Burning Incense speaks to the power of perseverance. Down the wall, A Friendly House By the Side of the Road welcomes you with hypnotic gaze and comfort-inducing embroidery. The juxtaposition of light and dark; bright and muted color; soft, familiar objects and sharp, unforgiving ones create an engaging show by which the viewer is simultaneously challenged and consoled.

When asked if he has an overarching theme in his work and exhibition, Athlone had an immediate answer: "Love your neighbor; love your neighbor; love your neighbor. Treat people the way you want to be treated. That's my overarching theme in everything that I do... I think that if we do that, we will have a much better world. We will have a world of equity, and we will have a world that is capable of realizing the ideals that we preach about all the time--equality, love, tolerance."

"Quantum Intuition on a Tangential Path"

Quantum Intuition on a Tangential Path by Athlone Clarke is on view until October 22, 2020 in Kentuck Art Center's Museum Gallery. Athlone dedicates this exhibition to the late Georgine Clarke—Kentuck's founder, a fierce artist advocate, and Athlone's friend. We encourage you to visit to see this work in person! We are currently open limited hoursMonday-Friday, 10-12, 1-4 and Saturday-Sunday, 12-4. Facial coverings and social distancing required.

Available Work:

Please contact us at 205-758-1257 or email to purchase before October 22, 2020.

It took a long time to learn that we can all find our door of return

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A Friendly House By the Side of the Road

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Based on a True Story

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Lost Dairy. Same Root Different Branches

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Poem on the Bible Belt

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Again the Phoenix rises like smoke from a Stick of Burning Incense

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Dear America II

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Bent but Never Broken III

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Born with a Veil During the Third Cycle of the Moon

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The Outsiders are the True Innovators

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Image made of Concepts

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Professor Nuk

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Madam Curator, Artist Enabler

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Stay Open

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Quantum Intuition on a tangential Path

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