Rhapsodyfloorstack 208, 2008. Graphite and paper-coated rope. 22 x 26 x 22 in.

Creighton Michael and the Origins of Marking

Throughout the history of art—no matter what period of time or in what part of the world—artists have placed considerable emphasis on their ability to draw. Drawing functions as a tool, a primary attribute for making art. Whether in painting or sculpture, the artist needs a certain skill in order to express ideas and images. Drawing is what ignites the synaptic charge that goes from eye to mind to hand. While often confused by art educators, the concept of the mark in drawing is different from that of the gesture. While the mark suggests a sudden impulse or punctuation as made evident in the early paintings of Joan Mitchell or in the papier-mâché heads of Jean Dubuffet, the gesture is more given to a refined movement or aesthetic expression as in Mitchell’s later paintings or in the sculpture of Bernar Venet and Clement Meadmore. This does not mean that the mark is less significant than the gesture. Rather, it means that they function differently on both a conceptual and manual level. In much Western art, the mark suggests a relatively neutral origin that may lead in the direction of either drawing or writing. In Asian cultures, the mark of the brush constitutes the origin of the ideograph, or idea-picture, in which word and image cohere into a single holistic concept. Here, the mark becomes the origin of drawing/writing—the pivot in space and time that predetermines the quality of the gesture and the meaning that will eventually follow.