This is an interior detail of a very structured Christian Dior couture gown. I see a LOT of stitching and only very little has been done by machine. It's the human hand that gives it it's magic.
I recently received a trove of photographs from the performance of Burial at the Frye Art Museum last September. These are just a few of the great moments that photographer John Ulmann captured that wonderful night. Just click the picture for the gallery.
Burial II is taking baby steps toward being fully underway. I'm learning new techniques and working with new materials, teaching myself new ways of looking at garments, doing a lot of research and a fair amount of writing. I'm at the"fumbling my way into the work stage", which is frustrating but necessary. The beginning of the year is always a good time for me to get good work done, and I plan to hit 2015 like a meteor, so a bit of fumbling is fine for this lovely December.
I stumbled upon a wonderful product that seems like it was made for my work. The Sutherland Felt company makes a pressed natural white wool felt in various densities and thicknesses up to an inch. I'm so excited about getting a chance to work with this material. I have small samples in my hands, and am anxiously awaiting my small initial order to arrive so I can start working on techniques. These wool fabrications have me so energized and excited. I can't wait to get to work.
Work for Burial II is set to begin at the the top of the New Year. I am excited, awestruck and inspired. This past year has been full with commissioned work, wonderful collaborations, research and study but now it's time to retreat to my studio alone for a while and create a new body of work.
Last month during a visit to Houston, Texas, I was granted the wonderful opportunity to study at the Menil Collection, viewing A Thin Wall of Air: Charles James in the company of the curator of the exhibition, Susan Sutton. Susan graciously arranged for us to visit the Special Collections Storage, which is an unbelievable trove of art from antiquity to the present, all stored in such a way that each artwork is is visible, not filed away. A wall of gold leaf and polychrome icons pushed us physically back a step because the combined power of these objects was so strong. She also arranged for us to visit the conservator's work area during the de-installation of the exhibition so that I was able to examine Charles James' work up close, inside and out. I felt a kinship with James so strongly that day, when I saw the inside of one of his complicated and decaying gowns. It was reassuring to see many couture sewing techniques used as I use them in my work. Susan also gave us a wonderfully informative tour of the Menil House, so that I could see James' only work as an interior designer. The details and treatments used are breathtaking, daring and unusual. It was a very rare treat, and I hope to re-visit one room in particular for further study.
The second part of the trip was to view Dario Robleto's current exhibition at the Menil Collection The Boundary of Life is Quietly Crossed and his concurrent show at the Inman Gallery, Life, Left to Struggle in the Sun. We were able to attend a small walk through at the Menil with the artist, who was then gracious enough to meet us for a private walk through of his show at the Inman Gallery. His talent, work ethic, intelligence and kindness are palpable, and both exhibits are beautiful and impeccable. I also sneaked in 20 minutes with the antiquities at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and saw very lovely and very inspiring sarcophagi, votive figures, and cinerary urns. I then spent an enlightening and entertaining hour with MFAH Curator Alison de Lima Greene, who is whip-smart, very funny, and made curatorial comments about Burial that are invaluable. Houston has been very kind to me, and I can't wait to go back.
I will be working on fundraising efforts through the end of the year. I believe that this work has something important to say, and it is vital that I start making it now, not later. I can't do it without your support. I haven't begun my formal fundraising, but if you want to help make this work happen, you can always make a tax-free gift to the project at https://co.clickandpledge.com/sp/d1/default.aspx?wid=69275.
As I re-enter the world of Burial, you can look forward to more frequent posts here about the work as it develops. Thank you as always for your interest and support.
Guanajuato, Mexico, March 2014
A short film about an artist whose work I find both beautiful and challenging. In the film, you can see his beautiful Winged Heart. I was lucky to see a large group of his work in exhibition at the Station Museum in Houston in 2013. Click the picture to view the film.
My recent trip to Houston was filled with art and wonderful warm, friendly people. I brought home a lot of images in my mind, but the work that continues to resonate for me is this, Rene Magritte's Mme. Recamier de David, 1967. It was the crowning glory of the spectacular Magritte exhibition at the Menil Collection. Magritte passed in 1967, and didn't live to see this beautiful piece, based on his painting of the same title, in bronze.
Our trip to Guanajuato to visit the mummies is just three weeks away! The ideas for Burial II have started to coalesce over the last couple of months, and the first model has agreed to participate. I anticipate that the trip to Mexico will have a wonderful impact on Burial II. We will also have time to revisit the National Museum of Funeral History while spending some time in Houston, Texas on our return trip from Mexico. 2014 has been very exciting for Burial so far. The vitrine for Burial Ensemble #5, Marc is set for delivery on March 4th, with photographs by Steven Miller to follow. We are so looking forward to sharing those with you. A feature in the premiere issue of Dinosaur Intl. is coming out any day now, and the Surface Design Association Journal is publishing a feature in its Spring issue.
Our apprenticeship program is growing and improving, and we will be presenting what we have to offer in that regard to the graduating class of the Apparel Design Program at Seattle Central Community College this Spring. We are so happy to continue to strengthen our relationship with this well-respected program. Teaching techniques that we are in danger of losing because of their perceived impracticality gives those valuable techniques new life.
We plan to begin making pieces for Burial II in January 2015, and the rest of this year will be spent mastering new techniques for the collection, working on custom commissions, and I personally will be designing the costumes for the Intiman's production of Angels in America late this summer.
Thank you to everyone who supported Burial in 2013. Your generosity enabled us to not only create the collection, but to continue to take this important work to the next level, and we hope you will have us in mind when you consider your charitable giving this year. The performance and exhibition at the Frye Museum in September was only the beginning. We are planning a major fund raiser in the Fall to get Burial II on it's way with some truly special thank-you gifts. You can make a very welcome tax-deductible gift anytime right here. Thank you for your generosity. We could not do this work without your support.
The performance and exhibition at the Frye Art Museum this past September was only the beginning. As we move into the new year we are extending and formalizing our apprenticeship program, gathering ideas and learning new techniques for Burial II, (also planning a Fall fundraising drive with some amazing custom-made gifts).
The most exciting work of the moment is the vitrine that Shane Montgomery is designing and building to showcase one of the ensembles. The pieces will be displayed in a 6' x5.5'x 6" ebonized oak frame between two sheets of tempered 1/8" glass approximately 4"" apart. We think it will be an exquisite way to display and preserve the Burial 2013 ensembles.
Dinosaur, a new culture magazine, will be coming out later this month. Keep an eye out for it. It's a large format, and we have 4 gate-folds in this premiere issue. Our first national press! Come Spring, we have a feature article in the Surface Design Association Journal, a quarterly. Very excited about this national and international exposure.
We hope everyone received their gifts from the fundraiser last October. We know they were a bit late. If you haven't received yours, send us a note on the contact page and we will figure out what happened. Thank you everyone for your support. Those gifts are still sustaining Burial, and are so much appreciated.
The amazing short film that Marcy Stone-Francois made about the Burial project and its beginnings is up for an audience award. You can vote daily through November to help Marcy win this important prize. It means an extra chunk of cash that an artist can always put to good use. She and her amazing crew made this film out of love, and it's our turn to pay it back a bit. Please register (easy!) and vote every day! Click here!
Contest is over, and we won the heck out of it.
See? It's actually two half-jackets...
People have been asking if and when there will be another showing of Burial. At this time, we are exploring options to take the Burial collection to another city or cities. I will be traveling to Houston in the early part of 2014 to continue the research at the National Museum of Funeral History which I began in January of this year, and then continue my trip into Central Mexico to see the Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato. I'm incredibly excited to add to my knowledge through this trip, and I expect my work in 2014 to reflect it.
There are no plans to show the collection in Seattle at this time.
If you are interested in purchasing an ensemble from the collection or commissioning a custom work, a studio visit can be arranged.
Thanks for your continued interest.
Marcy added performance footage from Sept. 20th to her prize-winning film made for the Hot Docs Challenge in Toronto in early 2013.
Now that the dust is starting to settle a bit, I want to thank everyone who participated in my self-made mini-kickstarter. You were all so generous to contribute, and this will give me the ability to take Mark Mitchell Burial a bit further down the road, after its auspicious debut at the Frye Art Museum this past month. I appreciate every contribution, from friends and strangers alike, and will use the proceeds to further this work with integrity of stewardship, and true intent. Thank you, so much.
Notes, prints, and pillows will be to you no later than the end of November!
“It is impractical and almost absurd. And it is the embodiment of what love is. All of Mark’s work is impractical, excessive, temporal, and the only thing that holds it together, that justifies it, is love.”Greg Lundgren, City Arts Magazine, September 2013
The Cradles Upon Which Their Dear Heads Did Lay
The nine silk and cotton pillows used in the Mark Mitchell: Burial performance at the Frye Art Museum on Friday September 20, 2013 will be awarded to the nine people who make the largest contributions to Mark Mitchell Projects before Burial closes on Sunday October 20, 2013.
All donations made to MMP through Shunpike’s Sponsored Artist Program are tax-deductible.
Dear Friends and Supporters – I am working toward taking the Burial ensembles to another city or cities. I need to have them photographed formally on the models, to clean and store them properly, and deal with a number of tedious and costly necessities, so we are raising the funds to do so. If you were moved or inspired by my work and wish to contribute financial support, your gift will be a wonderful means to help move Burial forward.
Each of the nine individually labeled and numbered 8x10 pillows is made of silk organza, topped with a stitched silk-ribbon pattern (a technique used throughout the Burial collection). The backing is silk taffeta. The pillows are filled with unbleached organic cotton, and lovingly hand-finished with a silk thread.
Everyone who donates $25.00 or more will receive by mail a personal, hand-written thank-you from me. Donate $50.00 or more, and I’ll send you a hand-signed copy of one of my unpublished sketches from the collection, in a numbered edition.
You have three more days to participate! Ends 5 PM, Sunday, Oct. 20.
Mark Mitchell Projects
Video by Burning Zephyrs of the Mark Mitchell Burial opening performance at the Frye Art Museum, September 20, 2013.
Click the image for a gallery of portraits taken at the Mark Mitchell Burial opening performance at the Frye Art Museum, September 20, 2013.
As we finish accessories and final adjustments the days are rushing by. Everything – always – taking just that much longer to finish, the list seeming shorter, the list seeming longer, the list always counting on things going as planned. There is less flexibility and more fierce concentration this last week. Things have to be finished, finished soon, but finished to our high level of workmanship. It's a challenge and a thrill.
After a long period of thought, design, research, and construction, we will be showing the collection two weeks from today. My heart is in my mouth a bit, but I think we're right where we should be in finishing details and final adjustments. I feel nothing but excited anticipation and gratitude (along with exhaustion) as we get closer to the presentation.
City Arts Magazine was so kind to feature my work in their September Arts Issue, and they even put my face on the cover. Here's my favorite photo from the piece, shot by a friend of many years, Steven Miller.