- March 16, 2020
As an artist, Mill Creek's Kori Clark said she loves taking a blank campus and creating something "that has a pulse."
Perhaps she should have said, "a heartbeat."
Clark, who already was established with her flow (abstract) art, has created a niche for herself by creating art from the heartbeat of unborn babies.
"When my niece was born (18 months ago), my sister-in-law was wanting art for my niece's nursery," Clark said. "She had been getting her sonograms printed out. She thought it would be a neat piece."
Clark pulled out a canvas and used a pencil to draw a heartbeat graph. She built up the penciled-in area with texture so you could "look at the heartbeat."
"I layered it with a thick modeling paste," she said. "Then I painted it with a heavily bodied acrylic. I think the texturing makes it unique."
Her sister-in-law, Baton Rouge, La.'s Beth Ruebsamen, agreed. She had a very personal painting which always will make her think of her daughter, Ellie, before she was born.
What began as an effort to produce artwork for the family expanded in a hurry.
"I posted pictures of it on my Facebook page," Clark said. "I started to get customer requests."
She started to contract to do other sonogram heartbeat paintings and would put up examples of her work on social media.
The orders increased.
A mother of two with her husband, Chris, she has a full schedule. Clark has completed approximately 50 of the heartbeat paintings so far.
She is enjoying the notoriety, but she wants to keep her orders manageable. She knows some of the artwork is targeted as gifts for baby showers or other celebrations. Each contract comes with a deadline and Clark wants each one to be special so she isn't about to get into an assembly line situation.
"The heartbeats (art) celebrate life without anyone knowing what it is," she said. "It's very personal. It just looks like an abstract painting."
One of her clients is Orlando's Rachel Vasquez and she loves that her heartbeat art is a talking point in her home.
Vasquez saw Clark's work on social media and she contacted her after the birth of her third child, Ezra, who now is 1. She also has a 5-year-old, Isla, and a 3-year-old, Oliver. Vasquez also experienced two miscarriages, so she asked Clark to combine all five heartbeats into one piece of art.
"I knew exactly what I wanted," Vasquez said. "You can transfer the audio (of your unborn baby's heartbeat) on iPhone (into a graph). It's really pretty easy. And I wanted something with meaning, not something random. This would be five heartbeats."
Clark went to work and Vasquez was thrilled with the final product.
"It was exactly what I wanted. I adjusted one of the colors (during the process) but I didn't want to give her too much direction. I am so happy it's in my living room. It is fun, and interesting.
"And Kori is the sweetest person. She is so genuine."
The heartbeats art is just the latest exploration of an artist who continues to expand her interests. It's been a long journey since her elementary school days in Baton Rouge when her mom, Linda Ruebsamen, would provide the outlines of people and then allow her daughter to draw the clothes and decorate the setting.
While her mom might have planted the seeds, her dad, Ric Ruebsamen, had a huge effect on her future as an artist.
Clark was attending Southeastern Louisiana University and she was undecided upon her future. She went home and had a heart-to-heart with her father while they were washing the family cars.
"I didn't want to be a starving artist, but my dad encouraged me to pursue graphic design," she said. "He said, 'You have loved art your entire life, and there are so many types of art.'"
At the time, Linda and Ric Ruebsamen had decided to move to the St. Petersburg area and they convinced their daughter to come with them. She followed them and enrolled at the International Academy of Design and Technology, Tampa, and eventually earned a degree is multimedia design.
She eventually went into digital illustration, working for Falcon Enterprises of St. Petersburg. "I was doing graphics that go on RVs and boats," she said.
She called it a great experience and said she still sees that artwork as she drives down the highway.
"Almost everything I do now is commission-based and I learned then to find out what (a client) would like and how I could create it."
After marrying Chris Clark, who is now the vice president of operations for Neal Communities, they had two children, Charlotte (now 11) and Holden (9). She would work from an office in their Mill Creek home when not caring for the children.
Now 41, she loves creating her abstract art as well.
Overall, she just likes creating art.
"I like the messy aspect," she said. "I use my hands to put on the paste. With the flow art, I give up control. It moves over time as it dries. I love that aspect. I've done what I can do. Let's see what happens. It's totally like finger painting on a large scale."
Executives at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center noticed her talent and ordered 17 paintings from her for its hallways and offices.
It was quite the workload.
"They took over the bonus room, the foyer," she said of trying to complete the order. "We had paintings all over the house."
But now she loves having her work displayed at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.
"It's awesome, so exciting to have them displayed in our community," she said. "And it's so important to our health. Art has the ability to change someone's attitude. Going down the hallway, you might feel different if there is art hanging on the wall. It can bring them a little joy."