Tarot Talks Volume XI: An interview with Terry Marks, Artist Extraordinaire & Contributor of the Stuckists Tarot Deck

Hello, all of my beautiful souls I hope that you are enjoying your summer. Taking walks, hikes, getting into the water at the beaches and lakes. Taking those midnight walks around the block after those sticky, humid summer days. Hopefully the AC bills aren’t that high this year, with all of the challenges that Summer brings this to me is the most wonderful time of the year. I find my thoughts clear which always lends to the best readings. I have been blessed in my life to create a network of people that have truly inspired, mentored me, and people that I can now call some of my closest friends. Terry Marks is one of those people, we started working on my full body tattoo almost 11 years ago and I am honored to call her a friend. I continue to be in awe of her lines, attention to detail and her continuation of painting in oil making sure that old traditions are honored in this Age of Aquarius. I hope that you are all as inspired by Terry as I continue to be!


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   Temperance, from Stuckists Tarot by Terry Marks

Temperance, from Stuckists Tarot by Terry Marks

Terry Marks Artist Extraordinaire & Contributor of the Stuckists Tarot Deck (Temperance)

Terry Marks has brought new life to timeless traditions. Her attention to detail and work in oil is awe inspiring. She creates characters that are all her own, and tattoos that are beautiful and worth carrying for a lifetime. I am honored to call her a mentor and friend!

Worthy Tarot: Tell me about your art and your process.

TM: I make oil paintings with a surreal take on Magical Realism. The stories I tell have a kind of upside-down, perverse logic, like dreams.  Both puzzling and believable, many of the elements I put in are contradictory, things that shouldn't be in the same room together, but are.

I paint with a mostly Byzantine palette, like the colors in a stained glass window, using layers of translucent texture. I also like to work with smoky black charcoal and handmade printmaking techniques. As an adolescent I discovered I could escape my troubled family life by making pictures. Now when I make a painting, and I'm doing it right, time completely stops. It feels a like a comic book hero super-power. I get to go away from the world and when I come back, there's a picture on my easel. I like to listen to spaghetti western soundtracks when I paint because it reminds me that I am embarking on a journey and an adventure, sometimes dangerous and difficult but potentially illuminating.

 Terry Marks, Artist…Painter…Tattooer…Actress

 Terry Marks, Artist…Painter…Tattooer…Actress

Worthy Tarot: Where are you from, where are you currently, and how have these locations influenced what you do creatively? Tell me about the stories in your pictures.

TM: For subject matter I am partial to absurdities in general, oddball pairings, and aspects of my hometown, New York City, particularly where there is urban decay combined with signs of nature taking over.  Growing up in Manhattan leaves an indelible mark on the psyche; my own identity is inextricably and forever linked with New York City. Even during the nine years I lived in London, England, the part of me that is a New Yorker never evaporated, and the city itself has become a character in my pictures.

Worthy Tarot: What drew you to Tarot, and how is your deck unique?

TM:  In 2012 I contributed one painting to the Stuckist Tarot project. The Stuckists are an international ReModernist arts group devoted to painting, from a wide variety of backgrounds and locations, who work in a wide variety of styles. We each painted one card, and each card is a reflection of the artist that painted it. I requested and was luckily granted my personal favorite, Art/Alchemy. 
The Art (Alchemy/Temperance) card is all about transmutation: the act of transforming something ordinary into something extraordinary, the mundane into the precious. This activity for the alchemist means turning base metals into gold. On a personal level it refers to a similar, but internal transformation, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually: ie. the elevation of the soul. For a painter, it is about our practice in the studio, taking paints from a tube, stretching some cotton fabric over a wooden frame, and making a piece of art whose value is worth considerably more than the sum of its combined materials.

I used symbology from multiple traditions for my image, and will describe a small portion here. The androgynous angel often depicted as pouring water from one vessel into another I show as a mad scientist in a modern, post-Frankenstein laboratory, distilling and mixing liquids in a crazy apparatus all night and into the wee hours, as the first light of sunrise appears through the window.

The colors in the many glass jars and bottles throughout the lab mimic my painter’s palette. The colors being mixed by the hands of the scientist are red and blue, representing the elements of fire and water, and also male and female, which although combined, still retain their separate qualities. 

One of the scientist's feet stands in a puddle as the contents of one beaker spills onto the floor, echoing the "one foot on dry land, the other in a lake" from other traditions; indicating that dipping into the subconscious is a necessary part of personal transcendence and of making art.

The vertical test tube contains blue glitter in the center of the painting, where the transmutation occurs, during the exact moment when night turns into day

Worthy Tarot: What inspires you and how was that inspiration incorporated into your contribution to the deck?

TM:  I am fascinated by illuminated manuscripts painstakingly painted by anonymous monks using what seems like a brush with a single hair, the anatomy of living plants, trees, birds, and beasts (including humans), and I find antiquated machinery and mechanisms oddly compelling. I also work as a background actor in movies and television, and there I see plenty of unusual characters in ordinary pursuits. All of these things get jumbled up with whatever's lurking in the back of my head, and find their way into my pictures.
Some of my influences include: Max Beckmann, Remedios Varo, Frida Kahlo, Albrecht Dürer, Jan Van Eyck, Otto Dix, Stanley Spencer, Stephen Campbell, Adrian Wisniewski, Charles Addams, Lenor Fini, Rene Magritte, The Clayton Brothers, and Robert Krasker.

I don't set out to be especially cryptic or mysterious. I choose elements that interest me and that I want to spend time with. Basically, I stick my paintbrush inside my head and see what I can find in there. I see the result of my painting efforts as a puzzle with almost all the pieces there, and I like the viewer’s imagination to complete the parts that are left unsaid.

Worthy Tarot: If someone is interested in your deck how would they get a hold of you?

TM: My website has a contact page to get in touch with me. You can also use the Facebook page to contact your favorite Stuckist artist; we each have a limited number of decks available.
Instagram: @terrymarksnyart