Have you ever accidentally found yourself in a Spanish bullfight ring, running for your life, barely making it over the safety wall with a knock on the head that makes you lose consciousness? Did you wake up to a matador, who is also an artist, standing over you? No? Well, it’s the real life of artist Marlene Jorge.
Restless, spicy, loyal world traveler with past exhibitions across the U.S. and abroad, Marlene is a study in bold living and creating. Though she tells us she only sleeps about three hours daily and must have music on when creating, the women she paints invite us to pause and reflect. The light in their eyes and the sensual lines holding them help us to breathe, wonder, and breathe again.
Marlene works with "pure, bold, dense" primary colors, admitting that she "rarely blend[s] or mix[es] them, in order to show their true nature." Her inclination towards strong, black lines, often done with the clean elegance of oil markers, comes from one of her most significant artistic influences, Pieter Mondriaan.
But the real gift of Marlene's work is the psychological subtlety infused throughout these sizzling color palettes. For her, living with chronic depression and P.T.S.D. has given her a new perspective to pursue in her art-one that is more personally and spiritually inclined. In fact, she observes that:
"My pieces try to touch the subconscious of others, so the observers can reflect on their own emotions and inner selves and how it does mold everything in life in general so they can create a better reality and contribute to a better world. Self-reflection is a great tool to manifest our greatness....how [can we] liberate our subconscious and break free from society's predisposition or blueprints?"
With this in mind, it is no surprise that many of her figures have intriguing decorative elements on their foreheads, where Hindus and Buddhists traditionally place the Third Eye - the seat of higher consciousness. Though Marlene's strong faith is not of the Eastern varieties, it is clear that she calls us to that higher place as well.
Let us hope that with Marlene and artists like her holding the matador's cape in the ring, we will continue to move beyond just surviving to thriving in a way that ripples out to everyone.
Re-Route Magazine (RR Mag): Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background as an artist.
Marlene Jorge: I am a neurodivergent artist born in the Dominican Republic. My trajectory as an artist started when I was five, following an early curiosity for colors, shapes, and especially the human figure. Next, I began drawing comics—imaginary stories about characters I dreamed of or invented and brought to life through my drawings. Like most artists, my work is primarily driven by emotion or to express a state of mind.
What role does art play in your life, and how has it helped you to express yourself or communicate with others?
Art has helped me greatly in many ways, especially when dealing with Depression and P.T.S.D. I was a very quiet child, and being able to create allowed me to feel secure and safe and showed me how to communicate things that verbally I could not.
Do you like to travel? Do you have any good stories you can share with us?
Yes, I've traveled and lived abroad. Spain, Uruguay, Galapagos, Italy, Geneva, Denmark, PR, Cuba, Canada, Hawaii, Belice, Curazao, Mexico, and Argentina, among many others. My favorite so far is Spain; I have treasured memories there, but mainly because, in my personal experience and opinion, Spain has everything, from gastronomy to art, and I love the people, the architecture, etc.
I have so many stories; one of them was while visiting Spain, we ended up in a town called Ronda. I started to wander and lost the friends I was with. I kept walking around the village and somehow ended up at the town's bullring. I walked around it and ended up in the arena, and little did I know there were people working there and training or feeding young bulls. One of the bulls got out to the arena where I was taking pictures, and I heard someone yelling at a distance. When I turned around, I saw this medium-sized animal running in my direction! I started running like a mad woman. I lost my sandals, phone, etc., while running to climb over the ring border to get to safety. I made it over and landed on the floor, hitting the back of my head in the process; I lost consciousness for a few seconds and woke up surrounded by five employees at the bullring and a matador who happened to be a painter.
I was taken to an enfermeria (nurse) by the matador and the director of events there. Later on, I ended up having lunch with his family at their beautiful house in Ronda. I learned so much about the bullfighting culture and spent time with the painter-bullfighter I met earlier and his wonderful family. Eventually, I met up with my friends when they showed up with two cops at the matador's house. We all had a great time after they realized I was okay.
Do you have any fur family? If so, could you tell us about them?
I do. I have a two-year-old chocolate Cocker Spaniel with green eyes; she is a beautiful girl, a six-year-old troublemaker, and a beautiful 5-pound Yorkie named Rambo. (At the time of this article, Rambo has transitioned. We send support to Marlene and her family during this painful time.) I also had a gorgeous Silky Terrier who passed away almost two years ago; she was 20 years old and the most incredible baby girl on this planet.
What motivates you in life? What are your passions and interests?
Jehovah motivates me; he pushes me to keep going and live in a place of hope. I am passionate about life in general, nature, and all the wonders and beauty created by God. I am also passionate about literature, music, and fine arts; as an artist, I appreciate everything related.
How would your friends describe you?
Honest, loyal to a fault, spicy, and restless.
Do you have a self-care routine?
I work out sometimes. I am 49, so I have to care for my body, but I am not an exercise bug. However, I suffer from chronic depression, and working out helps me greatly, so I don't have to take medication for it.
What is your favorite medium(s) to work with?
It would be oil markers. I love working with oil-based Sharpies because the lines look clean and elegant.
Can you walk us through your creative process?
Sure. My process is very volatile. One constant requirement for me is music to aid my creativity. My mind works 24/7. It never rests. I sleep very little, and I am constantly moving, and doing something, so music allows me to focus. Next, I pick an idea or a vision from my mind and begin to mentally dress, undress it (analyze), and only move forward if I think it is worth working on.
I work primarily on canvas, but in physical and digital art, I mostly prefer using pure colors--rarely blending or mixing in order to show the true natures of pure, bold, dense, bright primary colors. I love arbitrary colors, but I guess this inclination to bold black lines and primary colors comes from one of my influences, Pieter Mondriaan.
Who are your biggest artistic influences?
I have many such as Pieter Mondriaan, Dali, Modigliani, Alex Katz, Julian Opie, etc.
How do you come up with ideas for your artwork?
I capture moments or elements of my life that resonate within the soul. Like a personal diary, each piece has an emotional resonance; however, my body of work does not necessarily intend to convey any specific messages because I aim to express those experienced emotions.
What has been your biggest artistic accomplishment to date?
(They are) My first art exhibit in New York City, and last year (2022) also in N.Y.C. My pieces were displayed on the giant digital screen in the center of Time Square.
Do you try to convey any particular themes or messages through your art?
Well, my body of work does not necessarily intend to convey any specific messages or themes because my purpose is to share the experienced emotions I live and feel on a personal plane or from what I sense from others around me and how we can liberate our subconscious and break free from society's predisposition or blueprints.
How has your neurovariance shaped your perspective on art and the world around you?
It has brought me closer to understanding myself, the steps I want to take as an artist, my journey, and how I can contribute to other artists going through the same. It helped me pursue a different perspective when creating--diving into a more personal, psychological, and spiritually inclined one.
How do you feel about sharing your art with others, and what kind of reactions do you typically receive from viewers?
Honestly, I am timid when it comes to my art. Because I look at it as a personal aspect of my life, like a private journal, I get different reactions like most artists, primarily inquisitive ones. It is always great having others ask questions about the elements in your art pieces because it helps you mature or grow as an artist.
What are your favorite subjects to depict in your artwork?
People, mainly women.
How do you feel when creating art, and what does it mean to you?
It means everything. When I am not creating, I feel as if I am wasting the life so kindly given to me by Jehovah.
Tell us about your favorite piece or series?
I created a piece the first month I moved to Austin, TX, titled Ennui which eventually was part of a silent auction for a nonprofit organization in Miami. Ennui was the subconscious reflection of my reality at that moment and the many things happening internally. My transitions, my desires, my dreams, and my frustrations all collided in that piece. Today when I look at pictures of it, I feel the power of the emotions taking place at that season of my life and how I was able to keep a poker face attitude so I could reset, move on, and end up where I am right now.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists who are just starting out?
You must put in the work. Doors won't open by themselves, so you must knock on the right ones. Don't be afraid of creating what you feel; follow your emotions and flow with them. Criticism is good, but don't let it stop or block you. Research and learn. Travel if you can; it will help you grow immensely. Pray and place everything in God's hands. He does have your back and loves you. Trust him. Embrace the wins and the failures; they are growing pains and are greatly important in your journey. Help other artists as much as possible, support them, and always give back to your community and life. Embrace life! The sadness and the joy of it, you only get this gift once!
How can the art community better support neurovariant artists (NA)? What changes would you like to see in the industry?
The community can support NA by being open to the subject of understanding them. Society must understand that neurodivergent artists are not necessarily the "crazy individuals" they are usually portrayed as. (Note: neurodivergence is not a mental illness. However, many neurodivergent people struggle with it). People who struggle with mental illness are still being pointed at, prejudged, and cataloged by society's preconceptions. There are, and were, so many talented, gifted artists with mental illness who felt like society's misfits because they were misjudged and misunderstood. Knowledge is power; learning about and embracing the subject instead of criticizing it will accomplish amazing results.
I would like to see an industry unified and supportive of neurodivergent artists, where the same opportunities are granted across the board.
We're almost at the end. Can you tell us about a piece of art you are working on and your vision for it?
I am working on three pieces that will be displayed at a June exhibit at Times Square in N.Y.C. They represent the past five months in my life, my perspective about what was experienced, and the many ways others touched me throughout the process.
Is there anything else you want our audience to know about you and/or your work today?
Yes, creating, to me, is very personal. Although (my work) they are important to me, I am not creating to express my opinion about social changes or the common subjects or matters in life or society. I am more inclined to learn and touch people's mental states and paint a representation of what I perceive through their eyes and energy. My pieces try to touch the subconscious of others so that the observers can reflect on their own emotions and inner selves and how these generally mold everything in life. And by doing so, they can create a better reality and contribute to a better world. Self-reflection is a great tool to manifest our greatness.