Article By: Roya Arlisa
Charis Marshall is a contemporary artist currently based in Daegu, South Korea. Her paintings explore varying structures of lines, shapes, and colors delicately drawn to form comprehensive compositions. It is evident that her work is thoughtfully crafted and curated. Her interpretation of abstract art expresses a certain harmony between the simple and chaotic. Starting with an empty canvas, the artist gradually places basic elements of art throughout a page until a complex structure is formed.
From a young age, Charis Marshall has had an obsession with artistry, which has led her to be a lifelong student of design. Her extensive experience traveling and living across the globe has given her a lively and colorful perspective, which can be seen beautifully etched into her work. Through the close kinship of art and travel, she incorporates different cultural aspects within her designs. Her keen eye for composing abstract art is noteworthy and impressive. Here is an article put together to introduce this wonder of an artist.
You are currently living in Daegu, South Korea. What lead you to live abroad?
My first trip to Korea was back in 2012. I came briefly for a period of 3 to 4 months to work with a non-profit organization that assisted North Korean refugees. I primarily taught as an English teacher, but my job also entailed doing cultural exchange. I really bonded with the individuals I was working with, which was an enriching experience for me.
The second time I came to Korea. I returned because I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time, and I also wanted to visit my family that I have living here.
Can you describe how your experience has been in Korea?
I have had great experiences in Korea. I have really enjoyed everything from the people, culture, and food.
Overall, I have enjoyed spending my time here connecting with family and friends. Especially during times such as Chuseok and Seollal (the traditional Korean holidays).
Do you feel your experiences traveling have in any way, shape, or form influenced your art?
I do feel like my experiences traveling have had a direct influence on my art. I have traveled so much I don’t consider any place to be home. I grew up in a military family, so I spent a lot of time traveling throughout the states, Europe, and all over. Additionally, when I got married, my husband and I moved to Ghana. Then, we spent some time in New York, and now we are living in Korea.
In reference to the impact it has had on my art, I see the influences of Ghana through my choices of patterns and colors. Then, I can see some of Korea’s influence through the dark lines and ink brush movements. Our experiences have this way of shaping and molding us somehow, and those effects can be seen in the way we approach art. Simply, I feel like I can see bits and pieces of myself being expressed like this in many different ways.
Have you always had an interest in art? When did you decide to start creating art on your own?
I guess I would have to say that I have always been creative. When I was young, I would regularly find myself drawing wherever I was. Then in high school, I was doing a lot of photography. I took an AP Art History class (shout out to Mrs. Vargas). Just learning about how and why different art styles came to be, fostered a deeper interest for me.
Later, I studied graphic design for undergrad. I began to dabble with the processes of branding, screenprint, and pottery. I learned different creative techniques and mediums. Also, I worked for the designer TOM DIXON for a short time. He creates extraordinary designs in furniture, lighting, and accessories. When I was there, I saw how everything came together under his esthetic. At that moment, I learned that I wanted to create a feel and energy with my own art. One that makes you feel like you are in my space or my home. That’s when I told myself I needed to get serious about creating.
What does a typical day look like for you?
If I had to be honest, my typical day is not so cool. It’s me lying in my bed, watching reality television for hours, and eating snacks. However, on days when I create, I’m sitting at home in low light, on the floor, with everything spread out around me looking at a blank sheet of paper trying to find a way to put it all together.
Are there any artists that you admire? Who would you say to be your most significant creative inspiration?
So I would say two artists inspire my work, Kandinsky and Paul Klee. They were highly influential in the Bauhaus movement. A lot of their art includes the study of color theory and composition. I have always been intrigued and excited by them.
Moreover, I have to include my best friend, Sara Lorenzo. She is a Brazilian artist who does watercolor, graffiti, and acrylic paintings. Her work looks very different from mine. However, she has been one of my biggest supports regarding me pursuing my art. She is always in my corner, rooting for me.
You have a remarkable art style! Can you share a bit about how you came to develop it and why you make it?
It all goes back to the day I decided to go to an art store here in Korea. I became quite attracted to the traditional Korean style of art. So, I decided to purchase some ink, brushes, and rice paper. I wanted to experiment. I even thought maybe I would learn how to do Hanja or Hangul. It sounds a bit cheesy, but I got excitement from watching the ink and brush movements. I would put a line here and a circle there, and then I would need to find a way to balance it.
I chose abstract because it’s the best way for me to put whatever I’m feeling and express it on paper. Also, it’s all about the process. Finding a good composition is like creating your own puzzle and then putting it together. It is fun and challenging, which is why I enjoy this style.
Are there any particular feelings or emotions that you want to express through your art?
Ideally, I desire to emulate an aura of joy. I would love for people to feel pleasant or calm from my work. Still, I think it is fun to hear what people think about my art. For example, I showed a piece to my husband, and he said he saw flowers. Now, in my mind, there are no flowers. However, he saw them because he wanted to interpret it that way, and I think that’s okay. To me, it is all about the feeling. Does it feel right? Does it feel good?
How would you describe your artwork?
I would describe it in two different ways; it’s a study and a vibe. I spend a lot of time meditating on my linework and colors in order to create an interesting composition. If it doesn’t feel right to me, then it won’t feel right to others. Since I can’t explain the type of feeling that I want viewers to have, I will simply call it “a vibe.” It sounds cooler that way.
What is your ultimate goal when you create your illustrations?
My ultimate goal is that I feel happy with my pieces. It’s important for me to be at peace with the completion of my work. I also hope that it shows the range of talent people of color (BIPOC) have. Many of us have refreshing perspectives and styles. You can’t box us into a stereotype. We are our own category, and we continue to shape that category every day.
What would you consider to be the most challenging aspects of creating art?
Personally, it is knowing when a piece is finished. Knowing when your work is done and feeling like you said everything you wanted to say.
Listening to yourself and trusting your own process. At times, I tend to do too much, and I think, “Oh no, I shouldn’t have done that!” So for me, that’s been the most challenging aspect of creating my present work.
Do you have any tips on how artists can stay motivated and productive? If you could give any advice to an aspiring artist, what would it be?
My advice is to stay true to your talent and explore it. Don’t worry too much about anything else. Just do it and don’t let fear stop you. I think it is easy for us to get caught up with the idea of a lack of followers and likes because we need that to help gain exposure for our talents. BUT we must remember why we started this journey in the first place, and that was because it brought us joy. So keep going and make sure you are enjoying your creations.
How do you make your art? What materials do you mostly use?
I use a variety of materials. I primarily work with ink on watercolor paper. For the color, I go between a range of acrylics and traditional Korean colors.
Could you share where we can find more of your work and what if any plans you have for the near future?
In the near future, I hope to eventually transfer what’s happening on paper to more tactile mediums. My desire is to combine art and interiors to create a holistic environment.