There’s a recurring theme seen in her images — appreciation of motherhood.
Parks, a diminutive brunette, pointed out images of Iraqi mothers with their children. Her inspiration, she said, was the beginning of the war in Iraq 10 years ago, when the news footage showed videos of the suffering of common people.
Most of her subjects are people, and their faces are the focal points of her works. They reflect a range of emotions — contentment, sadness, anxiety or cheerfulness.
“This painting is of my hair dresser,” she said as she pointed to a colorful rendition of an attractive woman in a wicker chair. Another painting showed a hobo wearing a chambray shirt and a slightly crumpled hat. A sculpture that matched the painting sat next to it, and the same hobo held a replica of a tin can. Parks said she met the man when he was working for a relative, and she was fascinated with his stories. He told her the can was used to warm his food over a fire.
The passion Parks has for her art glows like the spring sunlight streaming in through her studio’s classroom windows.
Parks is the featured artist in the newest exhibit at Noble Gallery, inside Nunnally’s Custom Framing on Noble Street in Anniston. Though she lives in Anniston, Parks’ work has not been on display locally for several years. So she said she was pleased when Nunnally’s owner, Ann Welch, invited her to display some of her art.
“She called and asked me to be the featured artist,” said Parks. “Many of my pieces have not been seen around here.”
But that wasn’t always the case. Parks was one of the founding members of the former ArtWorks Gallery that was on Noble Street for many years. Her work hung on the gallery walls, alongside that of other local artists. In addition, Parks had a solo exhibit in Talladega three years ago, and pieces of her work have been shown in Florence, Gainesville, Ga., and in North Carolina, Texas and Florida.
Parks is married to retired Anniston attorney Charles Parks, and the couple has three grown children. During the years when she was raising them, Parks said she painted gifts for her children’s friends, and taught her children to be artistic. She attended the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., but took a break from her formal education to raise the children. She later transferred to Jacksonville State University and graduated with an art degree in 1999.
Parks’ method of creativity is to keep about three pieces of art going at a time. When she gets “bogged down and can’t progress” on one piece, she moves on to one of the others until inspiration strikes.
She also takes photographs whenever she travels. On a recent vacation, she snapped a picture of a colorful rooster on a nearby fence, and it became the subject of her next painting. The rooster’s side feathers are shaped like a pharaoh headdress, so she named the piece “Pharaoh.”
Sketching is a big part of Parks’ painting method, and “slab and coil” is her method of working with clay — building an object up with both slabs and rolled clay. Her latest works use high-grade clays of such quality that they require a scant amount of glaze.
“I can’t imagine my life without art,” Parks said. “It’s a huge part of my daily life, and it’s been therapeutic for me during difficult times. It’s an incredible way to express myself.”
Parks’ work will be on display at Noble Gallery, inside Nunnally’s Custom Framing on Noble Street, through July and can be viewed Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Email Sherry at firstname.lastname@example.org.