Dara Mark, a graduate of Yale University and the University of California, Santa Barbara paints artwork that reflects a sensitivity to flow developed over decades of meditative Chi Gong practice (Chinese energy work). Chi flows through the body as rivers and streams flow, as life itself flows, as love flows from the heart. Mark is a professional artist who lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has received artist grants from the Arts Councils of Missouri and California and the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission and has shown in museums including The Albuquerque Museum, Los Angeles Municipal Gallery and the Palm Springs Art Museum.
New Mexico artist Dara Mark’s work possesses an ordered, calm beauty that sets it apart. Her patterned, abstract paintings take advantage of the flowing effects produced by her materials…and recall the natural world, which, like her paintings, is a grand mixture of the ordered and the random.
Order and surprise motivate my work in equal measure. Once I have painted a grid of orderly repeated shapes on synthetic paper, the flow of paint settles according to its intrinsic properties. Each pigment I use has its own way of moving and settling, which is inherent but not predictable. When the paint dries, the paper is layered into a composition.
By allowing natural chaos into the work I am continually surprised by the result. The painting becomes a meditative collaboration between me and my materials. Often suggesting biology, geology or landscape, the paintings are named for Greek water nymphs, those gentle beings who embodied the healing powers of rivers and streams, or for local New Mexico landscape features, or for my daily practice of Taoist chi gong (energy work). My chi gong practice consists of a few specified postures followed by simply allowing the body to move, very much like my painting practice. It is effective at the physical, mental and spiritual levels.
One of my artist heroes, Agnes Martin, pointed out that 'all art is experienced emotionally.' I’m aiming for feelings that are subtle and life-affirming. I have learned from Martin’s work to simplify the art in order to quiet the mind.