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Chelsea DeLeon

Mark Making: A Specific Component of Contemporary Art

Scoop.it Archive: http://www.scoop.it/t/art-education-by-chelsea-deleon
In my own artwork mark making takes a paramount role in composition. Because
of my own interest and on going exploration of markmaking, I chose to create my
Scoop.it archive around contemporary artists who have inspired my own art work with
their emphasis on markmaking. I have included artists who make marks with a variety of
media and methods of markmaking. In this research packet I will explain my choices of
artists and elaborate on how these artists utilize mark making in contemporary art. Mark
making can be defined as using a chosen media to create a line that is either twodimensional or three-dimensional. Mark making is an element of art that has been present
since the beginnings of art history. Because the use of line is so primitive in our
conceptualization of art it is intriguing to witness how contemporary artists are using this
vital element of art in new and innovative ways to exhibit their own artistic vision.
Site-Specific Mark Making
Some of the artists I chose in my scoop.it archive utilize mark making in their
artwork to create what is called site-specific art works. These artists go into gallery
spaces and create their work in that specific space. The pieces after the exhibition are
disassembled and will never be able to be replicated. The monumental scale of these
pieces and the dedication to technique and repetitive mark making that each requires
makes each of theses artists works fascinating. The different uses of media and variation
of marks makes the simplicity of these artists engaging and influential.
Heike Weber, for example, goes into a space and transforms it with felt tipped markers.
Her drawings are deceptively two-dimensional and seem to jump off of the flat planes of
whitewalls and floors. The deliberate marks are repetitively stacked on each other to
create optical illusions that seem to move with you as you move through the exhibition
(Shades of Utopia: Heike Webers Permanent Marker Art, n.d.). Monica Gryzmala
and Motoi Yamamoto are two other artists included in my scoop.it archive that create
site-specific works. Gryzmala makes marks with miles of adhesive tape that is applied on
top of it over and over again to create her installations. The lines the tape makes as it

emerges onto the wall and around the gallery spaces demonstrate a fast and aggressive
use offline that excites the viewer. (Museum of Modern Art, 2010) While Gryzmalas
work is fast and aggressive, Yamamotos salt drawings are peaceful and meditative.
Yamamoto uses his consistent lines of salt to process and accept the death of his sister.
His lines are repetitive, but are also cognizant of composition. Negative space and a
dense concentration of lines contrast each other, but also work harmonious in these large
and delicate installations (Monterey Museum of Art, 2014).
Methods of Mark Making
While the location of the art work is important it is also important to consider how
marks are made. What tools did the artist use? What methodologies does the artist use to
implement mark making in their specific style? Tony Orrico is an American dancer who
uses his the range of motion of his body to create symmetrical drawings. Additionally,
Orricos drawings can be considered performance art. During the performance an
audience can witness him create his drawings in a dance like production. The video
included in my scoop.it archive depicts Tony Orrico using his body to create a radially
symmetrical piece that consists of repeated arm movements while he is holding sticks of
graphite. His focus and deliberation of all his movements is evident as he moves across
the paper to complete his composition (Orrico). Fabienne Verdier uses another atypical
method of creating her marks. She began her career studying Chinese painting in China,
but when she returned to France her style changed to focus on mark making and color
utilization. Verdier uses a single massive and heavy brush that is suspended from the
ceiling. She uses handlebars to push the brush around the canvas to create her large
marks. Her very specific brush is made of horsetails to give the massive brush volume,
length and a distinct soft mark. Her marks are relatively simple and demonstrate the
quality and movement of the brush (Verdier n.d.).In order to create his drawings, Cai
Guo-Qiang uses gunpowder to create large-scale pieces on paper. His gunpowder
creations are almost a performance in themselves because they require large numbers of
people to set up fuses, distribute gunpowder, and extinguish any fires created by the
ignition of the gunpowder. The burn marks in the paper create value and lines that define
either a landscape or a non-objective pattern to create his final pieces (Museum of

Contemporary Art).These methods of mark making include atypical methods but

effectively build upon the general idea of mark making. These artists build upon the basic
understanding of what a mark is and use different tools and methods to advance their
understanding of line and value to create art.
Concluding Thoughts
Mark making is how humans first started to express thoughts visually, and it is
arguably the most primitive form of art. It is important to see how this essential part of art
has evolved and how artists demonstrating their understanding of mark making in todays
contemporary art world. Mark making varies between artists and defines how each artist
expresses their artistic vision. Mark making in the past has either separated the good
artists from the bad (i.e. Monet, Rodin, Van Gogh, and Pollock) based on the artistic
norms of that time period. Today, in a world with a much more open mind about how
marks can be utilized in artwork, artists can utilize a variety of media and methods to
create marks. By examining the mark making of contemporary artists, it becomes evident
that contemporary art is based upon how artists take the primitive foundation of art and
alter it to fit their own artistic vision.

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