Marcy Parks

Marcy Parks

HollerHouse: Can you share a bit about yourself, where you grew up, and your journey into abstract painting?


Marcy: My name is Marcy and I am an abstract expressionist artist (which means I paint whatever tf I want). My family moved to Bristol, TN when I was 10 and never really left after that! Now my husband and I are raising our two daughters and our dog here. 


I have always been an artist with a passion for creating. When I was a student at Tennessee High School my art was much more realism-focused and I can remember my art teacher, Mrs. Kind, encouraging me to “loosen up” in my expression. My opinion of abstract art, at that time, was that “abstract art was for people who didn’t know how to draw”. And now, here I am, an abstract artist who doesn’t know how to draw too well 😅. 


I came to abstract art intuitively. I had a desire and longing to create, but not anything specific, and so I just went with that impulse. Since then, my abstract painting practice has become a practice in trust - trusting myself, trusting my impulse, trusting my vision, and trusting my skill


HH: When did you decide to make art your career? I remember you did a lot of illustration work alongside your abstract pieces—do you still find time for that creative outlet?


Marcy: My husband was the one who encouraged me to share my work with people and pursue my art as a career. 2017, when I was pregnant with our first daughter, was when I had my first show in the gallery at Blackbird Bakery. 2019 was when I started trying out festivals and art fairs, and 2020 was when I really started to get serious about it from a business standpoint and putting more energy into growing it into a sustainable career. 


I haven’t done any new illustrations since 2019 and only really pursue them if the impulse to create them is strong. Watching the way my oldest daughter creates with such freedom, bravery, wildness, and command is what is really inspiring for me right now. The older I get, and the more I create alongside my kids, the more I crave that same freedom they have when creating and I find that feeling the most in my abstract work.


HH: How has living in Appalachia influenced your art, and what do you love most about calling this place home?


Marcy: Appalachia is such a beautiful place to live and our family has a deep love for the landscape here. We are always taking opportunities to connect with the woods and waters of this region. 


Being an artist in the digital age is challenging because there’s so much background noise. There is so much to distract you and take you away from your own craft or influence you into following a path that isn’t your own. The woods of Appalachia is what keeps me on my own path, it’s like the touchstone for staying connected to my own truth. I find that when I take the time to wander into the woods and connect to the pace of nature (which is much, much slower than the pace of all the media we consume), I am also able to connect to my voice and the heartbeat of what it is that I truly want to create. Without that relationship, I’d likely be creating art with no soul to it.


The thing I love most about living here is that the woods are so accessible. I can drive not even 10 minutes and be on a trail in the woods and immersed in the wildness and quiet of the landscape.


HH: Congratulations on becoming a mom (again!) How has motherhood, especially influenced the themes and emotions in your artwork? 


Marcy: Thank you!! 💃🤱👧♥️🫶 This is a pretty big question that is hard to answer only because there is so much to it. My work is very emotionally driven and strongly influenced by my lived experiences. Motherhood brings with it an incredibly complex emotional rollercoaster - the highest heights of joy and love and fulfillment and excitement along with the lowest lows of heartbreak and loneliness and anxiety and fear and sadness. It’s A LOT. So in that sense, because my work is so emotionally driven, you could say it gives me LOTS of material to work with. But also, as I shared earlier, my girls are huge sources of inspiration for me. Not only do they inspire me with the way they create - freely, boldly, joyfully, LOUDLY, and with zero inhibition - but they also inspire me to create work that will shape the world they will grow up in


So in that sense, motherhood also challenges me to be bolder, and braver, and stronger, and more courageous, and more expressive, and more energetic, etc. in my art and my expression than I ever have before because I want my girls to feel at home in however those qualities take shape in them. Because of them, I am and will always be pushing the boundaries of what is “too much” in my work so that they will always know there is no such thing.

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