Day 17 | Mark Newport

These characters are childhood memories of the ultimate man – the Dad every boy wants, the man every boy wants to grow up to be. My hand knit acrylic re-creations of these heroes’ costumes combine their heroic, protective, ultra masculine, yet vulnerable personas with the protective gestures of my mother – hand knit acrylic sweaters meant to keep me safe from New England winters. The costumes are life-size, my size, wearable objects that hang limply on hangers challenging the standard muscular form of the hero and offering the space for someone to imagine themselves wearing the costume, becoming the hero. They become the uniforms I can wear to protect my family from the threats (bullies, murderers, terrorists, pedophiles, and fanatical messianic characters) we are told surround us.

The Sweatermen, Every-Any-No Man, and Bobbleman are heroes of my own invention. They push the image of the hero by highlighting knitting materials, textures, and traditions (cables and the use of “ends” to make a sweater) in the form of the costume. Some of the color and texture choices are based on the sweaters my mother made, her love of cables and her color choices. In these I work to forge the link between childhood experience and an adult understanding of protection, masculinity, and heroism.

Performances, prints, and photographs are my opportunity to expand the narratives the suits suggest to me. While earlier works in print and photography focused on the hero in the costume, where and how he functions, these pieces start to explore the alter ego within the costume and the connotations of knitting in relation to various roles and activities. Knitting remains the questionable activity for the protagonist while costumes change to more socially accepted garb. In each scenario the knitting seems out of place or defensive. Is the man in “Pick-Up” attracting or repelling the woman speaking to him with his knitting? How do these different stereotypes of men relate to an activity like knitting?

Heroic Efforts, 2009 – TRT 3:23 mins.
Sweaterman knits in an attempt to generate a force field and save those around him.

Mark Newport is an artist and educator living in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Newport’s work has been exhibited throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe, including solo exhibitions at The Arizona State University Art Museum; The Cranbrook Art Museum; The Chicago Cultural Center; and Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, MO. His work has been recognized with grants from the Creative Capital Foundation, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and the Herberger College of Arts at Arizona State University. It is included in the collections of The Whitney Museum of American Art; The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum; The Cranbrook Art Museum; The Racine Art Museum; 4Culture, Seattle; City of Phoenix Public Art, Microsoft, and Progressive Insurance. The Greg Kucera Gallery, and Lemberg Gallery, represent his work.

Newport is the Artist-in-Residence and Head of Fiber at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. He earned his BFA at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1986 and his MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1991.

Mark Newport – Bloomfield Hills Michigan

5 thoughts on “Day 17 | Mark Newport

  1. I liked this video. It was pretty ironic that he is wearing something he made as he is knitting another one. Also I think the musics up beat tone makes the video funny.

  2. mark newport is an amazing artist, and though this video is hilarious, having seen his talks makes me think about the idea of “sweater man” trying to save himself and his family. wonderful video.

  3. I deeply enjoy the idea of a full body sweater protecting and costuming an everyday man into the one who can protect his family from all. It is a delightful surprise to see a man knitting, I am saddened that it is a surprise. I once taught a school that actively had a knitting class filled to the brim with guys and girls from middle and high school students. I deeply enjoy the humor of the costume and music combined with the actions of a super-hero rocking in a chair as he creates a forcefield to protect his loved ones. Delightful and thoughtful.

  4. What a great statement to gender roles and the ridiculous typecasting we place on men. You want to hug this guy in his glorious sweater suit.

  5. I’ve seen his work in person and it’s so well done. His superhero costume is not the stereotypical type of superheros we think of. I’m unsure if I like the audio that is paired with this video. It almost seems to comical for it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s