Artist-in-Residence Uncovers Lost “Ghost Landscapes”

On Apr. 4, artist in residence Mark Iwinski gave a lecture about his work and inspiration. Iwinski is a multi-disciplinary artist who works as a painter, sculptor, print maker, and sketcher.

The lecture began with a word from art professor Carrie Patterson, who explained that Iwinski would be the final artist in residence at St. Mary’s this semester.

While staying at St. Mary’s, Iwinski will be working on projects involving the Historic St. Mary’s State House, printing an American Chestnut Stump, and working on a project during EcoWeek at the Annemarie Gardens.
Iwinski begins by stating that he would not be doing the “usual chronological events of [his] life” type of lecture, and would instead “focus on the major moments of [his] life as an artist.”

Iwinski draws a lot of his artistic inspiration from the environment, especially trees and tree stumps. By traveling all over the country, Iwinski has gained a lot of knowledge from his explorations of trees in the Midwest and northeast forests.

The focus of a majority of Iwinski’s work is in exploring what an environment once held. “I wanted to forgo and find forgotten landscapes and through art and research I wanted to find what was missing,” said Iwinski.
In this part of his work, Iwinski was looking at what he named “Ghost Landscapes.” In order to look at these lost landscapes, Iwinski goes into forest areas and finds ways to interact with the tree stumps and the living space.
In his lecture, Iwinski showed pictures of natural phenomena that occurred in nature, such as a tree growing over a large boulder. The way that Iwinski speaks about nature and the loss of indigenous trees creates nostalgia in his art as well as his lecture.

An idea that Iwinski seems to find fascinating is the breaking down and then building up of his art. He takes trees that have been logged and uses the stumps as bases for his sculptures.

He finds individual markings in the stumps fascinating and observes them with a very watchful eye. “After I began sculpting I began paying attention to other things…details,” said Iwinski.

Throughout the lecture, Iwinski added work from other artists in with his own work to show where he draws his inspiration. He seems to be really drawn to spaces that have experienced significant changes, such as ruins and city building that had been altered or torn down. “I am drawn to ruins and drawing ruins and the absence has a mystery and intrigue for me,” said Iwinski.

One of the most interesting things about Iwinski’s lecture was the very end, when he showed slides of his overlapping of old historic building that had been torn down with the spaces that currently resided in the city.

This project was interesting in that you could see the outlines on the old structure in the new spaces and the beauty of the old structures in contrast with new industrial looks that permeate cities today.
Iwinski’s lecture truly emphasized the impact that a city and people have on an environment and how by observing this, one can turn it into an art that speaks and educates.

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