Downtown Artists: Donna Marcum

Art comes from the inside. It can come from the dark recesses of a soul or can come from an important memory of a time past. It can be loud and boisterous or can be a quiet statement. Either way, no matter how flashy or soft the intended expression, the artist need not speak a word to parlay great emotion. Perhaps it is this reason that Donna Marcum was drawn to her craft. However, her art has spoken volumes to those who have taken time to listen on Trade Street.

Mother of five and grandmother of four, Marcum grew up in Hollywood, Florida. Moving to North Carolina in 2005 with her husband, Eric, Marcum made her home in Winston-Salem. In 2013, she changed paths from her career in elementary education and started pursuing art as a career by obtaining a studio in downtown Winston-Salem.

“In school, I was the quiet girl in class,” said Marcum. “I read a lot and was a library nerd back then; which is why I received a trophy for reading the most books at my school. It was my one big trophy. I have never had an art class because I was on the college track back then leaning more towards science and language. In high school, I wanted to be the next great poet but never art. Now, here I am in the fall of my life, and I am three years into being an artist. You just never know which way the wind will blow or what God has in store for you!”

Marcum’s path has not been an easy one. On her road to being a downtown artist, she has battled cancer and lost the majority of the use of her right hand…her painting hand. “I fell here at home and broke my left wrist,” said Marcum. “I never could follow through with my physical therapy, and my joints in my fingers froze, as the doctors say. There was no correction for my right hand. Also, my heel got stuck in a sidewalk at my job. but I didn’t. I fell and broke my right last two fingers. A hand surgeon tried to repair them, but they too are useless. So, in essence, I have the finger next to the thumb and the middle finger on my right hand that work. I hold my pen a little different, and my fancy handwriting is gone, but I practice every day to keep those two fingers alive so to speak. Painting is different too and messy…takes more time…less control…but if I take it slow, it works.”

Through all the personal struggles, Marcum has persevered and made her artwork feats of personal accomplishment. Driving her along the way is what art means to her. “My art is acrylic paint overlaid by ink,” said Marcum. “My drawings are simple and inspired by ideas or other outside items. As I enter my third year of art, I can see how I have evolved from simple circles and lines to dreams, fairies, bugs and birds, etc. I am influenced by nature and kindness. A few years back, I saw a da Vinci with my husband. It had power and electricity. That is art. Two years ago, I saw a Monet with my daughters. It was something we have all seen in calendars, books, etc., but I stood in front of it and looked at the girls knowing art is sharing beauty. I am a firm believer in looking at the clouds and seeing the designs. Art is everything to me, from a leaf to a well-known soup can label.”

It is this simplicity and emotion that Donna Marcum has brought not only to her work, but also to the downtown scene. She is a woman who has not always had the dream of being an artist, but when it did come to her, she pursued it with her whole heart. The struggles and obstacles she has faced have not only not stopped that pursuit, they have fueled it. That fire, and indeed Marcum’s spirit, is helping her make her mark on the downtown area and give even more light to the already shining atmosphere that is downtown Winston-Salem.