Mark R. Smith

Region: Pacific Coast

The printed images feature a group of collage-based paintings created from sections of recycled printed fabric, mounted to canvas and overlaid with skins of acrylic paint. The paintings include stenciled shapes-mostly the silhouetted outlines of sports and music figures with their audiences-which operate visually, as transparent openings, exposing the printed fabrics underneath.

In content, this work addresses the phenomenon of temporary communities-specifically, the public rituals where large groups of people gather and interact briefly in architectural settings like sports arenas, churches, music venues or convention halls (Most often, the floor plans of the architecture defines or informs the composition in the paintings). I am specifically interested in these types of settings because they become the vehicles through which collective consciousness and group identity are forged. The process repeats itself in communities of all sizes and levels of complexity across national and cultural boundaries. In these works, my use of clothing is intended to reference that collective human activity, whether it is competitive, celebratory or potentially violent.

For the past several years I have experimented with disparate materials including clothing, leaves, insects, photographs, fabric and other printed matter as a means of democratizing the painting process. I prefer to work within a pop idiom and I believe that bringing items of a familiar origin into the process serves to make my work more accessible and less austere. I admire quilts and other related utilitarian art forms. With the fabric paintings I am attempting to hybridize a vernacular process like quilting with my specific interest in large-scale public spectacles through the formal language of abstract painting.