Saw blades, candy wrappers, wood chips — chalk it all up to “Items Not Expected to Be Seen in a Gallery Space.” But this is where artist Mike Marth sets himself apart.
In a unique blend of exacting techniques and focused materiality, Marth has built a career on challenging forms and perceptions. In his latest show, titled “New Works,” Marth adds yet another layer to his ongoing dialogue with form and the ways in which to expand them. The collection will be on display at Ecce Gallery from Oct. 2 through Nov. 3.
As noted, the physical materials are a guiding force behind Marth’s work. When asked how materiality affected his creative process, he said, “They’ll guide the type of imagery or the forms that result as I work with them … I like to take materials and transform and re-present them. Materials will take on a different sort of feel or even content sometimes by just juxtaposing them differently. They’ll generate some kind of dialogue between each other.”
The materiality element of Marth’s work has been a continuation of an explorative learning process. Over the course of 16 years, Marth has dabbled with the concept of still-life imagery. So much so, as in its earliest days every piece was titled “Still-Life.” The reworking of allusions quickly began to evolve from that point to where his career stands today.
“I’m not interested in painting allusions of things. I’d rather use the thing, put it on there,” Marth said. “Rather than painting a coffee cup, I started attaching coffee cups, or scissors, or spoons and forks — things like that. As that went [on], the use of those materials became less and less about presenting that object, as transforming that object into some new form.”
The use of construction materials, recyclables and other natural forms can be expected in Marth’s work, but the method in which it is used is what sets his work apart. Each collection will naturally take on a materialistic theme. New Works places heavy emphasis on the use of birch bark, which carries with it a deeply personal, emotional feel.
Presenting personal elements through an abstract medium such as visual art can leave much up to audience interpretation. Carrying meanings across silent boundaries creates opportunity for both the viewer and creator.
“I would like audiences to get what I’m trying to convey with my work, but at the same time, sometimes I don’t really know what that is,” Marth said. “Sometimes I’ll find something curious, and I’ll explore it. I don’t always have some profound statement to make.”
From Marth’s viewpoint, the worst interpretation of his work would be indifference. The work is deliberate. Beyond its thematic elements, finding Mike Marth in the collection is simple when analyzing the layers of humor and sarcasm present in both his work and personality.
Relevancy is a hard-hitting, yet vital concept for artists to analyze. When asked if his work was relevant, Marth quickly answered, “It is to me. It’s what I do, it gives me a sense of purpose. I think it adds value to the world … I don’t know how relevant, and I don’t ask myself that. I feel it’s relevant enough to lure me out of bed every morning, and feel good about doing it.”
If one is looking to have their conventions challenged through artwork, Mike Marth’s “New Works” collection is the right place to start.
WHEN: 6-8 p.m. Friday
WHERE: ecce gallery, 216 Broadway N.
PRICE: Free and open to public
MORE INFO: ecce216.com