By Marjorie Bontemps

Image: Mark Lewis, March (Street Fiction), 2017, oil on canvas on board, 108 x 192

Mark Lewis, who is an Oklahoman artist who lives in Tulsa and teaches painting, drawing, and collage at The University of Tulsa. The focus of the interview with Mark was to gain some insight from an artist’s perspective about what type of museums would be complementary to his work. This was good timing because the artist’s work was being exhibited at 108|Contemporary gallery and at the artist’s suggestion, we met in the gallery. Though he speaks in a manner that understates the magnitude of his talent as an artist, he’s very confident about his work and what he wants to create as a contemporary artist in his medium as he says, “I paint and collage perceptually on site in Tulsa.”

Standing in front of one of his large-scale works Scene (Street Fiction), depicting a street scene which also includes some provoking texts: a mélange of strategically painted collage figures made with found materials of his own personal clothing are saturated with vibrant colors that permeate throughout the whole canvas against a backdrop of timely socio-culturally themed messages that reflect today’s tumultuous political climate. One can see how he’s displaying and possibly searching for language to discuss how his work is socially and politically relevant in today’s society.  He gains his inspiration by discovering new locations in Tulsa and exploring the landscape to utilize the figure. It shows the presence of the use of light and how he uses his visual field to construct with all the opportunities around him. As he explained how he delves into the process of creating the collage it’s, “a certain accumulation of material establishes a tactile dialogue of looking, seeing, and realizing.” In that, he wants to convey the reality of the material and its transformation. It reveals the relationship between paint and collage and how combining the content of the artwork simultaneously makes it not only conceptual, but well-fitted artwork for any museums.

Marjorie Bontemps is a 2018-2019 Oklahoma Art Writing & Curatorial Fellow.