New to LSU: Q&A with Chris Marin
Chris Marin is an assistant professor of practice, artist-in-residence at the LSU School of Art. He received his BFA from Texas Tech University and his MFA from California College of the Arts. His sculptural paintings have been exhibited nationally.
What is your background prior to teaching at LSU?
I spent two years at Charles Adams Studio Project as an artist-in-residence in Lubbock, Texas. During my time in Lubbock, I taught as a life drawing instructor for Texas Tech University and as an elementary art teacher for Lubbock Arts Alliance and Condra School. Working collaboratively with East Lubbock Art House and BLNKA, I remained close to nonprofits working to promote the arts and surrounding communities.
How would you describe your artistic practice?
My work continually has a realistic depiction of people, either in sewn thread, fabric collage, paintings, or drawings. The content becomes the person… the body… and questions, “Where does the individual end and the community begin?” By breaking down identity through culture, clothing, family and other personable concepts, I observe living in America today.
Now, I want my work to establish an emotional connection to the audience and expand the definition of public art in referencing the scale, materials, access, and audience. Art teaches us to see–– and see differently. Paralleling the cycle of making artwork and stepping back, art allows me to critically self-examine my behaviors formed from culture and a lower social class. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is crucial to the thought process behind my art practice.
People fail to thrive if their basic needs are suppressed or never met and do not have the time to address mental or emotional maturity. For these reasons, I use my skill set as a large scale portrait painter to experiment with fabrics, found materials, paints, woodworking, and video projections, to realistically depict people. With easy access to visual and performing artists and cultural icons, phones expand the definition of public art. This virtual and non-site specific art allows people to stay attuned with ideas kin to popular culture.
What themes feature in your artwork?
I am taking a snapshot of jumping thoughts that naturally take place in my head, and that is why my work is overlapping with imagery. This performance/praxis authorizes alternative realities for the audience to unsettle their conventional perceptions of what it means to live. This is why my work is about race, but not all about race. It is about love, but not all about love. My work is even about sculptural painting, but not only about expanding the definition of painting.
How is hip hop connected to your artmaking?
Hip hop is my culture. Art enables me to unveil complexities and incongruities of everyday people, with the lens of thinkers like Dr. Cornel West and Dave Chappelle. It’s hard to live in the moment unless times are hard. This reflects the incongruities of humanity at the highest level and is the definition of deep comedy.
Like hip hop, I sample different time signatures to create nonlinear narratives. I am investigating the unexpected imagery in the expected place. Fabric as a material has been a recurrence in my work because clothing is an identifier that crosses cultures and generations. The utility of the material gives a built-in history into the artwork along with certain techniques applied, it can be something beyond what is traditionally thought of as an artist’s medium. Clothing reflects the wearer, attaching ideas to images, which then reflects all of our biases. It not only has the capacity for great interconnection with people, but the judgment of another person’s belongings (clothing) will fall short.
Marin teaches painting + drawing foundations courses in the LSU School of Art.
View more of his work at www.thechrismarin.com.