Mark Sawrie: The States Project: Indiana
Mark Sawrie was the first photographer I met in Indiana. We bonded immediately when he opened a small drawer in a display case featuring a taxidermy animal to show me his fingernail collection of two decades and counting. His vastly different experiences are evident in his artwork as he oscillates between a controlled studio setting and astute everyday observations. His latest series, Sublime/Banal, explores a quieter side – uneven coats of paint in a nondescript bedroom, wrinkled dress shirts on a less crinkled sheet, and the repetitive, yet oddly calming, presentation of State Fair beauty queens. Mark reveals subject matter that is easily overlooked and then throws us for a loop with his sardonic titles.
Mark Sawrie is an Associate Professor of Art/Photography at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where he has taught for 23 years. He has exhibited: photography, video, drawing and assemblage-sculpture, widely across the U.S. Sawrie received his B.F.A. in photography in 1981 from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky and his M.F.A. in photography in 1986 from the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Some of his more influential experiences have included: tobacco cutter, product photographer, medical photographer, construction worker, and pizza delivery. Known as a loner who loves people and a funny curmudgeon with a heart of fools gold, he is also rumored to be a cat whisperer. Selected solo exhibitions include: The Donna Beam Gallery at University of Nevada Las Vegas, The South Bend Regional Museum of Art in South Bend, Indiana, The Yellowstone Art Center in Billings, Montana, The Rochester Center for Art in Rochester, New York, Paris Gibson Square in Great Falls, Montana, The 4 Star Gallery in Indianapolis, Indiana and The Devine Gallery in Louisville, Kentucky.
“ . . . worship all that you see and more will appear” – Shaffer’s screenplay Equus
I’m moved by the present; everyday beauty that oddly attracts; the fleeting confluence of light, place and subject that must be appreciated now; or that synchronicity of elements disappearing in seconds, minutes or hours. I cannot get enough of looking at things unexpected. It verges on torture in that I’m tempted to abandon every task or responsibility at hand, and instead worship visuals life has provided me through happenstance or destiny. I probably shouldn’t drive. The need to wear glasses in 2002 is to date the most tragic event in my life (a barrier between me and my straying idolatry).
Comfortably stalked by beauty, I am receptive to the constant and random stream of stimuli, experiences and circumstance that question or solve just about everything. Any aesthetic epiphany I encounter is rarely intentionally sought after. Instead it lies in wait for me to arrive, become aware and stop. Pretentiously, I think my images (my optical prayers) are beyond words when it comes to complete explanation. It’s about being there, completely as possible; and you’re invited. Please don’t bring your phone.
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