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Mark Zimmerman

Mark Zimmerman has a BFA (Minnesota State University Moorhead) and MS (Illinois State University) in printmaking, and an MFA in painting ( Illinois State University). Recent art works have focused on the landscape, real and conceptual, natural and man-made, with particular attention to interrelationships between those facets of landscape. The art works seek a synthesis of traditional linear perspective components with aerial views, map elements, photo collage, and mathematical/conceptual diagrams. Photos of surface details and additional art works not posted on the web are available. 

Zimmerman's work hangs in private, university, corporate, and public collections.  He has worked as an artist-in-residence in schools (kindergarten-university) in both Dakotas since 1998, teaching painting, drawing, printmaking, and guiding mural productions.  He is on both the South Dakota Arts Council & North Dakota Council on the Arts visiting artist rosters and twice the recipient of Artist Grants from the SDAC.  Mark has been a gallery director/executive director of an arts center, co-director of a community arts council, and did time as a commercial/graphic artist. 

Artist Statement

If you grew up in square rooms, in square houses, walking square blocks to square schools in the square towns of square states, you might find a square, or perhaps more properly  a grid, becoming an unavoidable form in your landscape paintings and an inescapable conceptual component in your view of a land, in your idea of home.  The subject of primary concern in my work today is place, the landscape of the northern high plains and recently the Black Hills, which I now call home.  I love these places and their great space.

Bird’s-eye views of earth’s organic forms intermeshing with geometric grids on the ground below an airplane window I find endlessly fascinating.  Unless cloud cover precludes even foggy glimpses, I cannot pull myself from that window.  The streaming sequential views driving and steadily shifting transitions of hiking across the plains, through those vast spaces, are ever intriguing and often exhilarating for me.  Memories of place, the feel as much as the look, haunt my existence.  String memories of those multiple visions together, dump them on a canvas, and stir them into visual equivalents of place and memory and you’re close to my artistic process.  That process and the interests behind it run through squared grids, past place, and beyond particular locations to include also land-use patterns, geography, cartography, aerial and satellite photography, geology, and topography.  In the work, this is coupled with an appreciation for a slant and refraction of light, colors reflected to the eye by land and sky, textures under foot and at hand, and, perhaps more than all else, space, that fraught emptiness of these lands as felt, seen, remembered, and conceptualized.  All of these interests, in varying and unpredictable combinations, provide the subject for my work.

Each work is truly an exploration, a search for form, and for meaning in form.  My earlier work, stylized and owing heavily to surrealist ideas and processes, left me with a willingness to trust the random, and a faith in the power of automatism, in automatic mark-making.  Today my landscapes frequently still find their genesis in combinations of randomly selected snapshots, arbitrary selections from maps and aerial or satellite images, random fragments of cold geometry, odd assortments of memories, together with drips, spatters, trails, and scrawl of unconscious automatic gesture.  To these beginnings, I bring a formalist’s training and marry in a guiding hand of memory as it re-presents to me, perhaps a specific place, and/or a generalized locale, plus, an ever-impassioned, personal, visceral response to land and its space.

It is a simple and profound act of faith to venture forth into an unknown; art can be such an act of faith.  In artistic searches, processes, and adventures, in battles well fought on terrible fields of white canvas, it is the journey, as much, or more than the destination, which matters.  In the resultant works, it is my hope that a viewer can retrace the journeys, both routes pursued, abandoned, and roads not taken, can sense struggles and elations in paint and painting, and can finally enjoy this exploration of limitless possibility.

It is also my hope that these elements of form, individually and in concert, delight the eye, satisfy an innate sense for quality, sound rich chords recalling spaces and lands remembered and dreamt, real and archetypal, and that the works engage the intellect and imagination and resonate in the heart of the viewer.  Finally, through an exploration and discovery of form, I hope to convey content, to convey a love of great and small, of the timeless and fleeting, and of the grand unity in the Taoist’s Ten Thousand Things of this world, at bottom, to convey a love for place and all of nature.