Mark Bradford has represented America at the Venice Biennale… and he began artmaking with hair papers used for curling hair of African Americans from his mother’s hairdressing business.
Mark loves using those small paper squares:
“I liked it because it came from the social fabric of life and it came from what I did for a job; trying to bring the social back into the studio and trying to bring the studio back into the social”
Learning from Mark
Mark comes across in this video as a smart, energetic, hardworking artist with an eye for colour, a curious mind and a sense of depth. He’s very self-aware about how he works and therefore has a great deal of information to offer beginning artists about ways to work with inspiration. He’s not prescriptive: he simply presents how his mind and craft work – it’s up to the viewer to decide what, if any, of his working practices may help them.
- He thinks and walks, and walks to think
- He does 70/30 or 60/40 ie The larger percentage is working on projects where he knows where it’s going – and the smaller percentage is time he allows himself to play with the unknown
- “What I’ve learn from one piece of work I’ll immediately apply to the next one”
- He describes his process as: “bringing stuff from the street – the social, the political, the psychological ….. whatever things I was interested in, bringing material into my studio, adding another kind of social/historical fabric on top and some chemical thing happening and it is a work”
“I give myself permission to follow my own voice: and that’s what my whole career has been”
Giving back to his community
Mark sent up a Foundation 10 years ago called “Art in Practice” to bring contemporary art into his old neighbourhood – so that young kids growing up there can experience what he missed out on in his childhood: exposure to contemporary thought. A lot of these young folks are in the Foster Care system, and he noticed that they were hanging around, with nothing in particular to do or place to go.