Irene V. Clark Biography

Irene V. Clark




Irene V. Clark was born in Washington, DC in 1927. After moving to Chicago, Illinois she studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Her career as a recognized artist began in 1939 in Chicago during the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

Irene Clark pursued her artistic vision throughout her life, studying screen printing in Chicago with William McBride at his South Side Community Art Center and with John Miller at the 414 Workshop in Chicago, the San Francisco Art Institute, and in Haiti. Clark and McBride continued a long relationship of correspondence. She was a gallery director at the Exhibit Gallery and Studio in Chicago, and a member of the African-American Historical and Cultural Society. Clark painted her designs on wooden furniture for the Marshall Fields Company in Chicago.

At one point Clark moved to California, living in both Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Clark exhibited at the Oakland Museum in 1968; the African Historical Society, 1972; North Shore Art League in Chicago and numerous galleries in northern California. Much of Clark's work is in the permanent collections of the Oakland Museum of Art, Oakland, California and Atlanta University.

A traditionally trained artist who embraced the “primitive” motifs (like Arron Douglas and Jacob Lawrence) Clark evoked the folklore she heard and read as a child and later studied in Haiti. Her even later works do the same for African and diasporic folklore, such as this screenprint (serigraph) done on a yellow window shade.

Clark stated about her work: “I try to project in my work a universal (embracing or comprehending) feeling or mood. It is really a truly spiritual expression that I hope will be enjoyed by all viewers.”

Irene Clark died in 1984.