Interview: Mark Andrew
1. Could you provide a brief description of yourself as an artist and your background?
I would consider my art practice to be multi-disciplinary. I enjoy working in all mediums. I enjoy having that flexibility. My main focus would be sculpture, installation, and video art. I grew up in the small city of Omaha, Nebraska. Many of the works I make have a pop sensibility, mixed with dualistic undertones. As a kid, I was obsessed with pop culture and spent a lot of time watching TV and renting movies, so a lot of the work reflects on that upbringing
2. Why did you choose installation and found objects as your primary medium for expressing your vision and ideas over painting or drawing, for example?
I like the interactive element of installation work. When you make an immersive installation, you can carry the viewer into a different world—kind of like they were just transplanted onto the set of a film or tv show.
I enjoy ready-made objects because of the mass-manufactured process. I also enjoy the artificiality of manufactured products. I am fascinated with how manufactured goods are produced; the repetition of creating goods is very rhythmic, like a perfect dance track. My incorporation of ready-made objects is a celebration of that innovation. The ready-made is like a universal visual language. You can find those objects anywhere in the world, which helps viewers think about their nostalgia.
Most of the found objects I use in my work are commonly found items that were once owned by someone else. I work a lot with pericline figurines, music boxes, dolls, chairs, and tables. Again, objects that are easily recognizable. Working with second-hand materials is like collaborating with a person you never met. I referred to this process as “collaborating with ghosts.”
I enjoy painting and drawing as well, but I feel a lot of my work could be labeled as a sculpture/painting hybrid. Drawing is good to get your ideas down; it helps you create a blueprint of a bigger picture. I always carry around a notebook with me.
3. In your installation work titled, “Suburbia in RGB,” you use spray paint and acrylic paint to color-code different objects into different parts that are coming forward and receding in space. What are some of your color concerns, in using mostly primary colors for the objects? Are you trying to balance the overall visuals with warm and cool colors, or are you trying to bring attention to certain aspects of the installation, while simultaneously editing out other parts? What is the meaning of the very intense red walls?
I don’t have any concerns with color, in all honestly, I think we have become a very colorphobic culture. When I was attending art school, I noticed a colorphobic trend happening. Many students were trying to go more contemporary and minimalist—lots of raw canvas, lots of plaster, lots of rubbed out charcoal. I sometimes feel color is dangerous; a weapon that attacks the senses. I like to challenge those ideas and to embrace the intensity, even if those colors are crass and unattractive. I enjoy breaking the rules with colors. I find harmony in colors that don’t match. With “Suburbia in RGB,” I wanted to overly stimulate the eye by incorporating very bright and bold colors. It was almost an experiment in how far I could push the boundaries of what was acceptable. The green, blue, and red hues were chosen because they vibrated off each other. I wanted to create an installation that echoed a typical household while being off-putting.
The red I used for the walls was Cadmium Medium Red. I love the orange hue of that color. It’s warm and not cool, and it reminds me of fire. Any room painted red demands attention; it’s very tense and confrontational.
4. In your work titled, “Standby,” are you eliciting a sense of nostalgia for the times of analog tv’s? What would you like for the viewer to take away while looking at this work? Are the colored panels interchangeable?
“Standby” was a tribute to analog televisions, which is a clear indicator as to how old I am. I wanted to create a piece that exemplified my love for my own nostalgia. The SMPTE test was something I remembered seeing as a child. The SMPTE test usually meant the network had interference or was being re-calibrated. I felt standing in front of giant bars of color would give the viewer a sense of being small, maybe even energetically re-calibrating the viewer's own energy field. I enjoy the reaction of seeing something larger than themselves, like standing in front of a giant gothic church. Each panel is individually placed onto the wall that would allow you to interchange the color coordination, but it was never my intension to swap them.
5. In your work titled, “Shapes In RGB,” you allow room for interactivity by letting the shapes be rearranged and repositioned. The shapes do not fit together completely, hinting at the viewpoint that there is no one right answer but many different interpretations that are all equally valid. What does this tell us about the fundamental nature of art and reality? When there is no one objective reality, and the observer observing the phenomenon changes the phenomenon, is art a mirror with which we can look into and examine ourselves?
Wow! What a great question, Chun. “Shapes In RGB” was created to dismantle the traditions we know of shape and color. I feel humans always want to compartmentalize every aspect of their lives. So, I wanted to create a piece that disrupts those notions. I also enjoy the freedom of change and experimentation. It was my intension to create a piece that allows the owner to engage with it. Even the smallest rearrangement of the shapes would bring a completely new life and energy into the room. I see “Shapes In RGB” as an audio mixer. You have the ability to amplify one aspect while toning down another.
6. In your work titled, “Seven Days,” you put together colored pill cases in repetition and display them on top of a wooden board. What do the different colors symbolize? Do they suggest something about the political and social situation in America (with red, blue, and white)? How does the work reflect the ritualization and divine significance of medicine in people’s lives?
“Seven Days” was created out of visual recognition, like many of my other works. I enjoy the repetitive pattern that is created when you have multiples of the same object. The piece speaks on the everyday rituals we all do, of those small habits that go unnoticed. “Seven Days” does touch on political points, but my intension was for it to have multiple meanings.
I am going to revisit this idea soon because I feel there are still subjects I want to touch upon.
7. In your work titled, “View,” colorless hands jump out at the viewer through the blinds, which are also colorless. Why did you choose the monochrome palette, and does the work tie into your life experiences? How does the work reverse the power relationship between the object and the viewer?
While I am a big fan of color, I also love the look of monochrome. The hands and horizontal blinds also matched the white wall the installation was on. There is almost an invisibility element to monochrome. I enjoy seeing objects blend into each other. The sculpture had a series of multicolored lights around it, so a kaleidoscope of colors was projected onto the piece. I view it almost like a movie screen in that way.
The piece is pretty intense; I intended to question what it means to “view art.” What if those roles were reversed, and the viewer becomes the object? It’s all very intrusive and voyeuristic.
8. Any final thoughts? What are your plans for the immediate and distant future? What are your dreams for yourself and the people around you?
I am currently looking into graduate school because I love arts education. I really want to teach at the college level. I don’t really know what dreams I have for myself, because I feel my life is already a dream. I like to go by guttural instants when moving forward into the future. What’s the fun in having a clear direction?