Truly hand-made.  Extraordinary attention to detail, on the inside and out.  Intricate design, and a romantic spirit.

Detail of chiffon tunic with French seams and hand-finished chiffon bindings.  Ensemble #2, Dominic.  photo 2013

Mark Mitchell Burial

I use text and fine dressmaking and millinery techniques to make highly realized sculptures that tell stories, mourn, and memorialize often using the tropes of funeral traditions.

I have long been involved in liberation struggle, as a gay white male artist with HIV. However, my activation to issues of racism has deepened greatly in the past 5 years. A friend’s 21-year-old twins were incarcerated and separated by a combined 11 years of sentencing. I knew these young men as children, and my heart breaks for them. This family’s lived experience is a major personal inspiration for my current work. My sculptures are also at the service of a larger goal — to address our current state of racism and mass incarceration and to recognize that we who benefit are responsible for dismantling it. Black and brown bodies are exploited as product and labor by for-profit prisons and government alike and I propose that power relations have largely remained the same since the founding of our country, but have taken on a different form. Slavery and mass incarceration connect by an unbroken line of stolen labor, murder, abuse, and intimidation.

I completed and exhibited my last large body of sculptural work in 2013 in a solo exhibition at the Frye Art Museum. Burial dealt with issues of mortality and mourning through burial garments.  Burial 2 takes on mourning in a different form, with activist intention. On my mind and in my heart is racial injustice and mass incarceration.  The racial climate is breathtakingly toxic.  We need propaganda for revolutionary change.

The time I spend making these objects is with an awareness of the time the twins are passing in prison. I am personally invested. I use high quality materials.  The integrity of my exteriors is matched by the integrity of the inner construction.  My sculptures demonstrate a high degree of craftsmanship. My techniques are based on a lifetime of studying vintage clothing and costume, fine sewing, theater craft, and millinery.