Portland-based artist and printmaker Mark Perry lets us into his world with this fascinating, behind the scenes explanation of his work. Perry discusses the meaning behind some of the repeated symbols in his artwork as well as the evolution of his printmaking process.
In printmaking medium, there are two methodologies that can define printmaking. One is to make editions of the same print. The second is to have a variety of printing substrates or images made, and use sequencing, layering, color, repetition, and variation to achieve a combination of results where not just one is the final solution, but all varieties have a just conclusion. I have always found variation to be more mystical and exciting, discovering the many options and lengths to which a particular print could go. The "Fate" series was a way for me to increase variation and take it to the next level. I started making a large number of blocks and plates of the same size, which went into not just a singular image, but diptychs and triptychs, followed by gridding and paneling of images onto a single piece of paper. In this way, The "Fate" series was a point of departure for me that remains to this day.
It was here that the fingerprint as an image became a prominent symbol in my work. I was thinking about taking someone's fingerprints, and how the exact matching of those lines determines our identity. We leave fingerprints every where we go. I also thought it was quite amazing that something can require such an exactness to determine its identity and that's what can lead us to the original owner.
Series like "Limerence," "Intersections," and "Trips and Lines," still utilize this way of working, but started to include map, road, street, and TriMet bus route images. I aimed to reference the idea that "many things go many ways, many times, just once." This idea of paths crossing and intersecting, how we leave a mark of our existence in a particular moment in time, whether it be a fingerprint, or where we crossed paths with someone on the road then met up with them again two blocks later. No matter how many times I can take the same bus at the same times, because of chance elements, the time, or experience will always have a slightly varied result, which ironically references the way I print. I also found it interesting to overlap these images, or to overlap the fingerprints to suggest exactly what could happen in reality when we all touch door knobs, or railings everyday, and suggest our experiences and lives cross paths more than we know. It's almost like we meet everyday.
I hope to have a large body of work of the "Tree Shimmer" series completed over time. Here in the Pacific Northwest, there is beautiful greenery and trees. I love looking at leafless trees and branches in the fall, winter, and spring, especially when there is light behind them. The vibrancy and movement that is created brings me calm and peace, which could be quite the opposite experience of cold, dark, and foreboding weather. The organic and natural rhythm of these branches, which is also the map of the tree, contradicts the structure and system of maps and bus lines, but how do we know those branches weren't destined to be exactly the way they are? Is "Fate" predetermined or do we make it up as we go along?
Who knows if any of these concepts are perceived, so, in the end, I just like to create images that I can stand to look at over and over, all day, seeing different things, like in those tree branches, overlapping fingerprints, and bus lines.
See work from all of these series and more below.