If Martha Stewart and the Devil had a love child, it would be Darlene Em.
As a child in California, Darlene was always drawing weird little animals in school. One of her report cards from Catholic school even had a note from her teacher saying that she should spend less time drawing and more time socializing. Darlene decided against that advice and after high school she attended the Art Institute of Dallas for graphic design.
It was there that one of her instructors, David Zarazua, helped her into her first show, the El Corazon exhibit in Dallas. This show focused on the heart and was a huge confidence-booster for Darlene’s art, which incorporates crafts, sculptures and paintings.
Since then, she has been involved in several shows and groups, including Art Junkies in North Hollywood, Common Unity in Dallas and Arts Goggle in Fort Worth. Her colorful pieces of work that almost look edible have a kitschy, lowbrow, pop-surrealism style. But Darlene doesn’t just draw and paint. “I wanted to venture out of just painting on wood so I started experimenting with faux taxidermy and silly looking sculptures. I sell a lot of Day of the Dead style Matryoshka dolls on Etsy and at festivals.”
So where does Darlene find the inspiration for these colorful and cartoon-like pieces of art? “Dreams, candy, abnormalities like parasitic twins and two-headed animals, ice cream, cats, bunnies, my Persian cats, Nigel and Luna, and my pug, Meatball. A lot of Tokyo advertising and packaging. Everything looks so fun and happy all the time and has faces all over things. Marie Antoinette is a huge inspiration as well.”
This will be Darlene’s first year at ORANJE as both a participant and an attendee, as she recently made the move here from Dallas, Texas. She’s looking forward to meeting new people and connecting with local artists since she’s relatively new to the area. Hoping that her pieces will find a good home, Darlene has some surprises in store for her booth on September 13, including fuzzy costumes and lollipops, to make sure to stop by and check out her work.