Portland Ovations mourns the recent passing of artist, advocate and activist dee Clarke.
Ovations was first introduced to dee during our 2014 presentation of Who’s Hungry, an artistic residency focused on pushing back the veil of food insecurity. dee lent her voice to this project as an expert with personal experience of poverty. Further evidence of dee’s impact on Portland’s artistic community, she was a member of the Arts & Equity Initiative and participated in the Art at Work project in which Portland Police officers turned their work into poetry that was displayed in City Hall. dee was honored as a Pearl of Portland, which honors artists, activists, and cultural agents in Maine.
In 2015 dee founded Survivor Speak USA to address “sexploitation” and its root causes of systemic poverty, racism, and misogyny. Based on her testimony to the Maine Human Rights Commission, dee’s play “The Last Girl” is informed by her life as a survivor of foster care and sex trafficking, exploitation and sexploitation, racism and oppression. It is this work that awarded dee one of five Portland Ovations commissions. It is Ovations’ understanding that dee wishes for “The Last Girl” to go on in her memory. It is our honor to carry forward this important work.
In addition to the many ways she inspired and fought for others, dee was the proud mamma of three grown children. Her family and loved ones remain in our thoughts.
Ms.Clarke is the founder of SurvivorSpeakUSA, an organization working to end sex trafficking and exploitation through elevating the voices of survivors, and bringing their stories to leadership positions where they can most affect change.
THE LAST GIRL is a three-act epic play that transforms Maine artist Dianne “dee” Clarke’s 2014 testimony to the Maine Human Rights Commission of her sexual trafficking as a child into young adulthood into a staged drama: one that brings to life the humanity of the many characters portrayed and gives voice and hope to the lives of survivors everywhere. On May 11, a group of local actors directed by René Goddess Johnson will read the conclusion of this drama, Act 3, in which dee adopts a false Asian persona and accent in order to “escape” from Boston’s Combat Zone to Maine with an immigrant man from China; and ultimately wins a struggle for her independence against further mental and physical abuse, using her own story to become an advocate for survivors of sexploitation.