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Spark Spotlight: Nancy Clarke Mariani, Leading Where You Are

The Spark Awards celebrate and recognize outstanding individuals and organizations from across the Western New York arts community for their dedication, talent, and impact on the arts and cultural sector. This year’s presentation will be streamed for free on our YouTube page on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at 7:00 pm.

Click here to learn more about the Spark Awards.


Nancy Clarke Mariani is an exhibiting member of the Buffalo Society of Artists (BSA) and is a member and President of the Fine Arts League of Buffalo (FALB). She is also a signature member of the Pastel Society of America (PSA) since 2012 and was one of the founding members of the Pastel Society of Western New York (PSWNY).

She has served on the board of the Lancaster Opera House since 2015 and have been its President since 2018.

Nancy has taught Art at Lancaster High School for the past thirty-one years and has been the Art Department Chairperson K-12 for the past twenty-two years. She is the advisor of the Art Honor Society / National Art Honor Society at Lancaster High School. The Art Honor Society has performed the Living Masterpieces in school and at the Albright Knox Art Gallery for “Art Alive” from 1996 to 2016 and, although it will be on a smaller scale, they will be doing a Drive-Up Living Masterpieces on Friday, May 21, 2021 after school.

Nancy has had the honor of exhibiting my artwork in several International Exhibitions, in Gramercy Park, Manhattan, NY, National Exhibitions, Buffalo and Rochester exhibitions. She works with many mediums but found her “nitch” in chalk pastels, using realism techniques, painting human subject compositions.

Learn more about Nancy!

Photo of Nancy Clarke Mariani

Who and/or what inspired you to become an artist?

I knew art would be my focus and direction throughout my life since I was in elementary school. My strongest grades were in Art and at times my teachers would allow me to use my art abilities to show another way to illustrate the understanding or answers of the lessons.

When graduating from McKinley High School in Advertising Arts, my fine arts teacher advised me to go into Art Education. That was a perfect focus for me, to give back by helping other young art students. My parents where always supportive of my art work too, which helped me to keep my focus and direction towards a wonderful career in art.

What motivates you to keep working and creating?

Every time I see an interesting person doing something or just their look, I want to photograph them and then I can’t wait to challenge myself and see how it comes out.

If you didn’t work in this industry, what would you be doing? What other career do you think you would have and why?

I love history. So maybe a history teacher. I love learning about the past and I’m very good remembering dates and numbers. I watch the History channel, discovery channel and PBS to get my history fixes.

What hobbies or likes do you have outside of your art?

I would like to get better at Golf. Get back to playing piano again and possibly take guitar lessons.

What is one thing people don’t know about you and/or your work?

People who don’t know me as well as my closest friends wouldn’t know that I have a twin brother and that my husband has twin sisters.

Is there anyone you would like to thank or share appreciation for?

I have been very fortunate to have a large support in family and friends. My strongest appreciation is for my husband, Richard, for understanding how much Art means to me, my twin brother Nelson, my art partner George Grace and his wife Donna, Paula Borkowski from the Fine Arts League of Buffalo and Richard McCleary who was the art department chairperson at Lancaster High School at that time, who hired me and believed in my potential in 1990.

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