A digital archive of Asian/Asian American contemporary art history

Marks, China

Artist Website

"Trained as sculptor, I made sculpture and drawings for over thirty years. For a little while in the late 90’s, I even made paintings. My art was displayed in solo museum and gallery exhibitions as well as in numerous group shows. It was collected and written about. But only in 2002, when I began to use an industrial zig-zag sewing machine to draw with thread fabric, did I discover my true medium. The process may be labor-intensive, but it provides extraordinary access to imagery and formal strategies.

I begin by fusing scraps of commercially printed fabrics onto differently patterned grounds, then stitching into them, drawing lines and laying in areas of solid or scumbled color to create transitions, unify disparate elements, carve out space and model form, and otherwise meld the variously patterned parts into a compelling whole which is an object as well as imagery. Over days and weeks, doing and re-doing as I react to what to what I see, drawings take shape under my hands, but not entirely under my control. Narratives emerge with remarkable vividness-people and stories I could never have imagined, but recognizably of this world, providing complex insights into the human condition.

Asian influences on my work are numerous and long-standing. 1972-74, under auspices of the Fulbright Foundation, a sixteen-month-long stay in Katmandu exposed me to Nepalese & Tibetan culture, to a lesser extent to Indian culture as well, and marked me for life. Twelve years ago, when I first encountered manga, I felt a thrilling shock of recognition, likewise somewhat later when I first began viewing anime. Manga and anime remain important influences on my imagery. 1996-2002, I lived on Catherine St., just south of East Broadway, explored local book shops and Hello Kitty stores, and made silk-screens from images I found on joss paper and in Chinese coloring books, which I use to this day. Last but not least, a large number of the patterns and prints of the fabrics I use in my work originated in India, Indonesia, China, and Japan, and infuse my art with their flavors."

China Marks, Artist Statement

Gallery of Selected Works