Arts & Culture / Mosaic / November 20, 2019

Sculptor discusses role of art in molding world

Professor of sculpture and ceramics, Mark Holmes, displays his sculptures that emphasize their expressive element. (KatyCoseglia/TKS)

For Art Department Chair and Professor of Sculpture and Ceramics, Mark Holmes, art is an important part of who he is as a person.

“I’ve always been involved in making things, whether that’s sculpture or buildings or furniture: I’m a maker down deep,” Holmes said.

After attending a small liberal arts college himself, and working at another previously, Holmes knew that Knox was the working environment he was looking for.

“Knox looked to me like the kind of place I really wanted to give myself to. I’ve never seriously looked back. I’ve invested myself here,” he said.

While the atmosphere of the college initially drew him in, Holmes finds that the collegiality of the art department is something that made him want to stay at Knox. Holmes also finds a lot of value in the artistic community in Galesburg as a whole.

What drew Holmes to teaching at an undergraduate level was the ability that professors have to develop relationships with students and help shape their view of art in big ways. The human aspect of teaching is something that Holmes finds value in as he can form trust and rapport with different students and shape their work while they are able to influence and shape his work at the same time.

Finding time to work on his own art is something that Holmes struggles to do during the term. Because of that, the small moments of time he can find to go into the studio and work on something new become a lot more valuable.

Spending time working in the studio is one of Holmes favorite parts of being an artist. Reaching breakthroughs and finding surprises while working in the studio are some of his favorite moments.

“I think those kinds of things — those really out of the ordinary moments — are what we live for. Where there’s really a moment of revelation, you see things in a completely different way. I’ve had probably two or three of those things in my life,” Holmes said.

Though he finds a lot of joy in those big breakthroughs, Holmes finds that smaller moments where one finds they are committed to their work and feel very good about it are also valuable. On an even smaller scale, he also values the joys of working on art on a routine basis and enjoying what he is creating.

“Wanting those moments of revelation is what keeps me going,” he said.

As for his personal art, Holmes often finds himself exploring the relationships between art and the world that we live in.

“The kind of art that I’m interested in making is one that exposes the logic of it’s making as a kind of expressive element,” he said.

Though most of his work is done in wood and welded metal, clay is something that he has transitioned to exploring after teaching with it often.

Holmes wants to explore how art reflects the world we live within and shapes the world we want to live in. Sculpture is the instrument that he has found with which to do that.

“It struck me that sculpture in particular was an arena where I could apply both my hands and my mind, that it was a world that was both inhabited by ideas and material,” he said. “It used all of me in a way that nothing else, I think, could have, that I still like living in that world where it’s on the one hand, full of abstractions and ideas and on the other, full of nuts and bolts and material problems. I like the way those two worlds run together in my brain.”


Tags:  art art department Artist of the week ceramics Mark Holmes sculpture

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