Michael Marks’ ‘Passages’
Detailed paper sculptures jut out from the walls. Soul-burning eyes grace the front of greeting cards.
To say that people might find the work of Michael Marks intriguing is an understatement.
Marks came to Georgia College for his Bachelors of Arts and went on to earn his master’s degree from Clemson University. Now a drawing and foundations teacher at Anderson University in South Carolina, Marks has returned to GC with his work for the exhibit “Passages.”
“Coming back here, it’s fantastic to see the growth,” Marks said. “Everyone here has been fantastic. All in all it’s been a wonderful and positive experience.”
Curtis Williams, a senior museum studies major at GC, curated the show to fulfill his museum studies capstone. When Williams saw Marks’ work, he knew that this was the artist he wanted to showcase.
“One thing that really caught me was his specific style of art,” Williams said. “I’ve got kind of a painter background so I saw that in his style, and from there I wanted to know more about it.”
One piece in particular caught Williams’ attention. The piece titled “You Never Touch My Skin in the Way You Did” became a personal favorite of Williams and is featured on advertisements for the show outside of Blackbridge Hall.
“I saw this piece at the studio kind of tucked away in the corner, and the first thing that really grabbed me was the color and the eyes,” Williams said. “I wondered, ‘What is the gaze trying to say?’ It has a lot of meaning to it.”
Marks places heavy importance on the meaning behind his work. He explained how the title “Passages” carries multiple meanings both obvious and personal to him and his methods and experiences while creating the art.
“‘Passages’ refers to a couple of different things,” Marks said. “A lot of the work in the exhibition comes from the process of drawing and collage and then painting. It’s really not a series of drawing followed by a painting. It could be drawings, then a painting, then more drawings from that painting, then collages from parts of the painting.”
In this exhibit, Marks has pieces on display ranging from painting and drawings to collages and wall installations.
“It’s a hybrid kind of thing using all these different media,” Marks said. “The word passage also has connotations of growth, change and a process. When you think about passage, you think about transition from one thing to another, and that’s certainly prevalent in this work in terms of a personal history and the actual technical process.”
Marks also explained that his work is an examination of history. Marks considers art history and studio art to be highly involved with one another and incorporates the two in his own work.
“I’ve never really spent time understanding how art history and studio overlap,” Marks said. “For me, it’s never really been a question of those two being separate.”
His work “Cockaigne” is quite literally a fusion of history and studio art. The piece is a 3-D mass of pages from a history book used to create a circular figure. Marks constructed the piece in Blackbridge Hall when he arrived on campus.
“It underwent a couple of different transformations in the process of making it,” Marks said. “It’s just a mass of literal knowledge that has been kind of reconfigured to perhaps represent a form that is swirling and maybe being sucked in but also pushed out. There’s kind of tension for me in the way I actually made it.”
Marks discussed how the fragility of this piece has increased its value in his eyes.
“This won’t last,” Marks said. “The paper will be ripped and destroyed when it’s torn down. It will only be here for a limited amount of time.”
Marks feels strongly about his work, and he explained how he hopes that GC students will benefit from viewing this exhibit, especially considering he is a GC alumnus returning to campus.
“I think it’s good for students to see alumni,” Marks said. “It’s good for them to see that there is actually a tangible product that can happen after you graduate college.”
Freshman art major Margaret Allison is just one example of how Marks is influencing current GC students by bringing his work here.
“I enjoy seeing other people’s work to see what inspires them,” Allison said. “I liked the way that he used pencil to make all the intricate designs. I thought that was cool. I think I’ll try doing that.”
The exhibit will be at Blackbridge Hall Art Gallery Sept. 24-Oct. 19 and is free and open to the public.