OLD NORTH – Local artist Marquis Terrell opened an art show Saturday evening at UrbArts, 2600 North 14th Street, inviting friends, family and St. Louis art lovers to view and celebrate the work.
Though he’s been an artist since he was a child, the show, “Creative Freedom,” is Terrell’s first public art show. He said he was nervous but also confident about the event.
“I finally feel like, in the past two years, that I’m almost at the level that I want to be as an artist,” he said. “It’s always me trying to climb higher and be the best, but I think I’m at that level where I feel like I can call myself a professional and be confident about that.”
Terrell started painting seven years ago and now uses mostly oils and acrylics, focusing on portraiture to “master the human figure.” He said he discovered his passion for art as a child by drawing with his grandfather and mother.
“Nobody’s a bigger critic on my work than me. I’m a perfectionist, meticulous,” he explained.
When not working on his own artwork, Terrell also co-runs “Art Vibes” and “Battle of the Arts,” in which young artists are chosen to perform a timed art “battle” and stretch their artistic abilities.
For Terrell, art is a way for him to explore his culture. As a black artist, he said, he feels a responsibility to share previously untold stories.
“A lot of minorities – everybody has a story, first off – but within our culture, I feel like we have a lot of stories that I can play off of, or I research something and it inspires me to want to create,” he said. A lover of history, he said that was often what inspired his work.
His hope is to create an annual show in June every year to celebrate Juneteenth.
“Juneteenth means the freedom of African Americans from bondage and slavery,” he elaborated, “so that’s my way of kind of shining on that important day for my culture.”
And even in “Creative Freedom,” Terrell’s work showcases the black community. His favorite portrait, titled “What If?” depicts Michael Jordan wearing a jersey bearing the name Howard, as in Howard University, a historically black university. Terrell said he painted this particular portrait to make viewers consider how a historically black college such as Howard might have benefited financially from someone like Michael Jordan attending.
Overall, Terrell said that in “Creative Freedom,” he was “breaking the chains of an introverted artist,” inviting the world into his art instead of painting alone in his basement.
This was a one-night event, but you can check out Terrell’s artwork on Instagram under the name @artbymarquisterrell.