About the artist About the translator  
e: mark@marksonpaper.us

imaginary maps

Since at least the age of five, the sheet of paper has been the space and materia prima of my artistic imagination. Even before I make my first mark on the sheet rustling in my hands, I experience the visual, tactile, aural, and olfactory pleasure of the paper itself. My art always begins with a sheet of paper and its subtle landscape of pressed fibers. I am a landscaper of paper, a self-taught cartographer of my papery ideas.

land•scape n. 1. An expanse of scenery that can be seen in a single view. 2. A picture depicting an expanse of scenery. 3. The branch of art dealing with the representation of natural scenery. 4. The aspect of the land characteristic of a particular region. 5. An extensive mental view; an interior prospect. [The American Heritage Dictionary]

For thousands of years, one of the most common forms of landscape has been the map. The landscapes I create on and out of paper continues in that tradition while at the same time questioning it, inciting the viewer to ask questions-about our expectations and assumptions of how we represent place-in order to better represent how we experience, imagine, and remember place. When I reassemble maps of the world, I seek both to challenge conventional representations of the external world and to reveal the hidden pathways and landscapes of my imagination and the world at large. In my work, I combine my love of paper with two other loves: my love of meticulous manual work (scissors and paste, needle and thread) and my love of playing with concepts and ideas.

Several years ago, a trip to Mexico refocused my work onto my prime material-the paper itself. Since then my work has entered-at times burst-into the third dimension. I have been playing with the sheet, exploring its material qualities-cutting it, curling it, bringing it to bulge and pucker and rupture-and questioning ever more deeply the concepts and ideas we project onto its supposedly blank surface. The same trip introduced hand sewing into my artistic imagination and technical repertoire. I am particularly excited about my new and developing use of needles and thread as a way of fastening paper. While my use of paste creates invisible seams, intentionally erasing my work under the viewer's gaze, the loops of thread I've been using to build my paper landscapes represent and embody the physical work of my hands in much the way that maps represent and embody land. These threaded seams are visceral junctures that evoke a range of memories, from the intimate, sensual, and devalued history of women's work to the surgeon's puncturing needle that closes wounds so that healing can begin.

Mark Schafer