Marcee Blackerby is a fortune-teller, artist, writer, witch and former carnival runaway. She is a Craft Lake City DIY Festival participant, and will be showing art pieces that are tangible, human and a little mysterious. She has published books and been featured in countless art shows over the past 10 years. SLUG got a tour of her studio and asked her where she gets her wild ideas.
Every month, SLUG Style features a distinct and unique member of the community and asks them why they do what they do. Exploring more than just clothing, SLUG Style is an attempt to feature the people who give Salt Lake City flavor through personality and panache.
“I’m a storyteller first and foremost,” says Blackerby, “so I haven’t had formal art training, but I feel like I’ve been an artist in residence. My husband Rick Blackerby is an artist. It sort of just rubbed off on me. I think it is a way of fighting back. I had ill health so while I was recovering I got really bored and I started just kind of fidgeting with stuff and put it together in a little box and it turned out, so I did another one and just kind of snowballed from there.”
“Through using objects that I find, or objects that have lost their way—I choose them to get a response from other people or maybe get them to take a second look at that particular item or what it might represent,” says Blackerby. “Some of them might be religious. All of them have some kind of spark. They are either very childish or bring childhood memories out. Or maybe they have mysterious elements—just pushed together so it makes you wonder about what you’ve been told or what’s really true.”
“I think my boxes are stories with windows,” says Blackerby. “They are kind of like Pandora’s box. Maybe a box is something that has a mystery something all its own. You see a box and it’s closed, you just wanna open it, no matter what. In society we live in boxes, we eat out of boxes, we get buried in boxes, we save things in boxes, we move in boxes, everything happens with those four squares in a window. Look at television—a box. It’s everything. Computers, screens, it’s our culture, you know?”
“What I love about Craft Lake City is the volunteers,” she says. “I just like the way they are devoted. [Craft Lake City] is a great organization and Salt Lake needs it. I’m surprised that more people don’t know about it. It is one of the best kept secrets, I think. Maybe it is just as well.”
Blackerby uses a wheelchair, but doesn’t like special attention or treatment. “This changed me. I could have been a Mormon. I think I rather would have had the polio,” she says. Her house is filled with her sensational art, and she invites anyone interested in seeing it to contact her and schedule a visit.
“I have feelings for [the objects] but I don’t feel sorry for them,” says Blackerby. “They can irritate me sometimes. And I sometimes throw them away if they are too uncooperative. No remorse. Only the strong survive my studio. It is a little mad scientist–like. I like that part of it.”
“[I like] things that have human connection,” says Blackerby. “A piece of mirror or an old comb that was in someone’s hair. A best loved toy. A bone, I like bones, or skulls, because they are what is left of that essence of life. It is still there. The archeology or structure is still there, even though the spirit or life is still departed.”