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Arlington Spotlights: Lex Marie

Lex Marie is an Arlington local and a multidisciplinary artist who creates paintings, sculptures and installations. Lex is currently a resident artist at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Arlington where she recently displayed her newest exhibition Let Them Kids Be Kids. We sat down with her to learn more about her background, career and the inspiration behind her artwork.

Tell us about where you grew up and when your interest in art began.

I grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland. I first got into art as a child, I was one of those children that always created. My projects were always a little more special than other kids'. Throughout childhood, I kept up with that until high school, where I managed to take 5 or 6 art classes somehow. I already knew art was what I wanted to do, I just had to figure out how it would make me money. By the time I got to college, I already knew I wanted to study art.

Who have been your strongest influences in life?

My strongest influences in life are my mother, and my five-year-old son, Aiden.

Who are some of your artistic influences?

My artistic influences have changed a lot over the years based on the art style I’m currently interested in. Initially, I started with self-portraits and Frida Kahlo was my biggest influence. She really got me into painting myself and painting my story. Since then, I’m a big fan of artists who create works that I personally wouldn’t think of, and that really wow me; like Theaster Gates and Karon Davis.

Lex Marie's studio space at MoCAA

Can you share a favorite memory from your career?

One of my favorite memories, which I didn’t realize how big it was when I was in it, was being part of a work-study program in college where I got to work at The David C. Driskell Center. While I was there I got to design flyers for some really large black gallery shows and exhibitions. I didn’t realize how amazing that opportunity was until 4 or 5 years ago when I looked at my emails and saw I had the contact information for some of my favorite artists.

What is your proudest career accomplishment?

My proudest career accomplishment is my first solo show called Remember? Remember. which opened up in October of 2021. It was in two spaces across Washington D.C., it was a pretty large show. I put so much time and effort, love, blood sweat and tears into that show. The response was incredible, it’ll stick with me forever.

Lex Marie at Remember? Remember. art show

Tell us about Let Them Kids Be Kids and how you conceptualized that exhibit?

I’d say most of my art is timely, and about things affecting me in that moment. The two things within the last two years that really affected me were women’s rights, and dealing with the killings of black men and children. As a mom, it really affected me. I decided to lean towards that idea, so Let Them Kids Be Kids is about adultification bias, which is when black children are seen as older or more mature than their white counterparts. The show is from my perspective as a mother raising a black son. 

Lex Marie's "Red Bandit Riding Dirty"

How did you become involved with the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington?

I became involved with MoCAA because I was curated into a group exhibition, it was a piece called At His Daddy’s House, and simultaneously I applied for their residency program and got in. Part of the residency program was to have a solo show, so that’s the stage I’m in right now.

What are some of your favorite spots in Arlington that you think visitors should check out?

When I got the spot in the curated show it was my first time visiting Arlington. Being born and raised in Maryland, I’ve always been close but Virginia seemed far to me until I showed my work here. Once I secured the residency at MoCAA I started looking for new housing and now I’ve been an Arlington resident for about a year.

I’d say one of my favorite things about Arlington are all the parks. I take my son to Mosaic Park and he loves the splash pad, the soccer fields and everything. The parks here are amazing.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

I would say follow artists you like and their careers. What really has helped is the more I’m exposed to what you can do in the art world, the more I realize that I can do it too. So as I follow other artists’ careers I can see how they’re moving and mimic it in ways, and adjust it to my life and my career.

Follow Lex Marie on Instagram and learn more about her work on her website here. For more information about exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Arlington visit their website here

Author: Paola Fernandez