Expulsion from Paradise, 2009, color pencil on paper, 17" x 99"


Melissa Marks describes “the drawn mark” as a “mutable abstraction, linear catalyst and fantasy instigator.” “Every drawing I make is a diagram of a core-shaking internal disruption, an interior landscape made visible, a picture of a self in a constant state of remaking.”

In a twenty-year project that has included drawing, painting, animation, wall-drawing and installation, Marks exploits the flexible structure of "serial context in collusion with the act of drawing" in order to explore ideas about character, performance, Pop, Nature, and Abstraction. The calligraphic gesture and deliberate line exercise an energetic form of visual self-talk, referencing sources as diverse as American comics, Contemporary Japanese Anime, High-Renaissance Fresco cycles, Van Gogh, Monet, Matthew Barney, Sol LeWitt, Edo-period woodcuts and Chinese scroll painting. Veering between the graphic extremes of full color and black & white, subjects include battle, paradise, water, transience and satisfaction.

Marks received her Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University and her Masters of Fine Arts from Yale University. Solo exhibitions include: Planthouse Gallery, NY; Bloomberg Space, London; Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, NY; Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, CT and Joya: arte + ecología, Cortijada Los Gazquez, Spain. Her work has been included in exhibitions at PS1/Moma, NY; Artspace, CT and The Drawing Center, NY.

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Volitia and the Red Bud: Misery Loves Company, 2012, pencil and gouache on paper, 30” x 88”



Adventures of Volitia


In a radical moment made of ambition and luck, Volitia, a detachable drip/mutable blob/Pollock leftover, caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and became self-aware. Recognizing the opportunity in this crazy accident, Volitia embraced her experiment. She began with a declaration of freedom, an attempt to live the idea of a self in a constant state of remaking. Volitia (as in volition) became a hybrid hero — part Superman, part Eve — a tantalizing remix of pictorial temptation and aesthetic promiscuity. The master narrative, the big picture, the growing sum of Volitia’s adventures, is an abstract, serial myth. A visual story able to sustain itself precisely because CHANGE demands that it continues . . . 

The drawn mark has been given superhero status and attributes, and yet, remains a basic reductive element - a building block with the power to elaborate fantasy. The abstract drip, the calligraphic gesture, the accomplished stroke, has an instantly recognizable iconic power, and at the same time, is inextricably tied to a belief in the interior life of creation, is a connection to something essentially human. This double dynamic, a funny conflation of Pop recognition and real feeling, is both Volitia’s point of origin and her fundamental core. 

Vigorously loyal to the forms of Nature, Volitia is blossom and ice, temporary, alive and melting. Capable of exemplary endurance, stamina and consistency, deep self-reflection and multiple iterations in a single drawing, Volita stands as both metaphor and object, as idea and emotional seismogram. As metaphor, she represents an open soul, ready to turn herself inside-out in order to see the world. As object, she represents our body, concrete and attached, utterly dependent on her ability to be seen. 


The Current Bends to the Right, 17” x 22”, color pencil on paper, 2015