Mark Van Wagner

Combining movement with stillness, Mark Van Wagner’s artworks evoke and synthesize numerous geological, sociological, and philosophical considerations. His sculptures often depict moments of impact and reverberations of force alluding to man’s presence in and effect upon the environment. But the implications of conflict, collapse, ruin, and restoration additionally convey a sometimes humorous, bittersweet appreciation of a fully experienced life.

Recycling discarded cardboard boxes, Van Wagner crushes, manipulates, and combines them into sculptural armatures onto which he improvises gestural marks of various glues and gessoes, some in thin washes and others in thick impasto. Onto these adhesives, he sprinkles beach debris and innumerable sand particles – natural sands collected from seashores around the world as well as pigmented sands culled from the wilds of the internet. In exploring the use of sand in his layered-relief sculptures, Van Wagner recognizes it as the most literal medium with which to capture material decomposition: its essence defines impermanence related to time, place, and gross matter. By reassembling the sand back into concrete forms, he not only addresses immediate and practical concerns of consumerism, waste, and the repurposing of resources; but more deeply contemplates the existential cycles of sorrow and happiness, destruction and creation, and death and rebirth.