In an effort to lift spirits, spread positive energy and support those around us, Artful Living has partnered with Chicago-based artist Heather Polk to create the exclusive art print “Love is an Action Word.” A portion of proceeds will benefit the South Side Community Art Center, the oldest African American art center in the United States. Here, Polk shares her inspiration behind this artwork, details about her art-making journey and more.
At what point in your life did you start making art?
I have always been creative and enjoyed making art, doing DIY projects and the like. I have some vivid memories of making art in middle school and completing some projects in college. I was a committed jewelry designer for about a decade and still possess the skills; however, once I started painting and making collages, I knew I had found my true creative loves. It’s important to develop a mastery of something, but I think it’s always good to build on top of that.
How would you describe the style of your work?
I would describe my collage style as minimalistic. My abstract painting style is colorful and bold. I love incorporating glitter and metallics into my work, especially when painting. I’m also interested in exploring digital work. I’m not at a point in my career where I want to marry myself to one particular style. The artists I am most intrigued by are always experimenting, refuse to be pigeonholed, and consistently find unique ways to repurpose materials.
Has quarantine affected your creative process?
The coronavirus outbreak has not really affected my creative process. I have always created in the evenings and on weekends, and that still holds true. Unfortunately, I found it easier to rationalize my night owl tendencies and stayed up making art longer than normal when we first went into lockdown in March 2020.
I was part of a virtual residency during quarantine and explored family mourning and health disparities in a series entitled “In Lieu of Flowers.” I became curious about how families had to mourn from a distance and manage the lack of familial warmth and connectedness that helps people get through loss.
What inspired the creation of this print?
The hand represents action, and the heart represents love and compassion. I think there are a lot of helping hands that make a difference in people’s lives, within communities and organizations. For me, this artwork is an act of sharing love with the people and things that matter most in one’s life and community.
A portion of proceeds from this print will benefit the South Side Community Art Center. Why did you choose this organization?
The South Side Community Art Center is a community-focused organization and has served Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood for 80 years. Many of the nation’s most recognized African American artists began their careers, exhibited and taught at SSCAC. While primarily focusing on the African American community, the center draws a diverse audience of artists, scholars, students, visitors and members from across the country.
I chose the SSCAC because I think its history and significance should be more widely recognized and celebrated. I hope the funds raised will help nurture current and future generations of artists to continue the legacy of the center.