Clinton native Marsha Kemp is the featured artist through April at the East Feliciana Parish Clerk of Court’s Office in Clinton.
Kemp, who has worked 38 years for the state, works as a rehabilitation evaluator, teaching pre-GED literacy and art to clients receiving care through the Department of Health and Hospitals.
A graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a dual degree in library science and elementary education, Kemp briefly studied art in college but became disenchanted with the rigid and disciplined teaching style of her professors. “No one should have the right to judge your work. What you create is yours, not theirs,” she said.
A self-taught artist who prefers to paint alone, Kemp promotes the idea that art can be curative and healing. As a rehabilitation evaluator, she leads small leisure arts groups, teaching basic sketching and painting techniques and on occasion, papier-mâché. It was after teaching her first group in 2009 that she became so inspired by the creative energy of the patients’ work she began to paint in class with them.
“I am a believer of teaching by demonstration and feel you cannot teach art by just telling someone how to paint. You demonstrate your technique, and then encourage a person to develop their own style,” Kemp said.
Her inspiration led to sketching five Native American portraits in a week. A series she considers “some of my best effort.”
Kemp also drew inspiration from the massive collection of Native American photography by Edward S. Curtis.
“His images of tribes in the American West are absolutely stunning,” Kemp said.
When painting, Kemp prefers using acrylics and studies photographs, choosing animals mostly as her subjects.
“I tend to focus on the eyes, whether it be an animal or a person. That gives me a connection that’s important to the overall sketch,” Kemp explained. “When I paint, I tend to be less detail-oriented and am more into the color and attitude of the subject. If it’s an animal, again, I focus intently on the expression of its eyes.”
Many of Kemp’s relatives were talented artists, furniture makers, porcelain painters and doll makers, she said.
“I believe there is a tendency to inherit the love of art and the need to express oneself through art. It is so exciting to capture the feeling that you want in a work and then stand back and accept the gift,” Kemp added.
To view some of her paintings and sketches, visit the Clerk of Court’s office at 12305 St. Helena St. from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
For information, call (225) 683-5145.
Artists from East and West Feliciana parishes, as well as Baker and Zachary, have had their work featured at the Clerk of Court’s Office. Several pieces of artwork must be submitted for review and approval, and if selected, artists also must write a brief biography about themselves to accompany their work.