Mark Messenger, an art professor at Diablo Valley College, is spending this summer as an artist-in-residence at the International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemét, Hungary, about 80 kilometers south of Budapest.
The International Ceramics Studio (ICS) was founded in 1978 by Hungarian artists who felt culturally and ideologically isolated, and wanted to work alongside international artists. Its mission is to promote the formal, aesthetic and technical development of ceramics, and to help foster creative skills.
The ICS artist-in-residence program is designed for artists who wish to work independently in the studios on their own projects, but allows them to work in the context of a different country and culture alongside other international ceramic artists. It provides artists with the space to create new works, experiment with innovative ideas, and research and experiment with new and different ways of making art while exchanging ideas and experiences through presentations and informal discussions. On average there are up to 10 artists in residence at the ICS at any one time.
As if to be two places at once, Messenger also concurrently has an exhibit at the Sonoma Community Center entitled "Manos: An Installation Exhibit by Mark Messenger," through Aug. 30. The center is located at 276 E. Napa Street in Sonoma; for more information contact Margarette Hatzler at 707-938-4226, ext. 7.
Messenger was raised in southern California and received a B.A. degree in history from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, a teaching credential in art from California State University at Fullerton, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from San Diego State University. He moved to the East Bay and began teaching at DVC in 1996.
His sculpture is a melding of folk and fine art traditions. Steeped in ceramic process and history, his work also pays homage to the rich heritage of sensibilities comprising American culture.
"My work represents a personal mythology based on a contemporary perspective," he said. "This includes a combination of drawing, painting, modeling and pottery techniques. Through these I explore social, political and psychological issues in the form of narratives. This involves a variety of characters which might be viewed as elemental components of a ‘self.' These characters interact amidst an eclectic, often anachronistic array of images and objects derived from history, religion, mythology, contemporary life, media and art. Their drama, in a variety of often humorous situations, forms the dominant undercurrent. My aim is to piece together some of the universal aspects of this dynamic."
Messenger's work has been exhibited extensively and is represented in a number of national collections. Two recent international projects include a group sculpture in Cuba and a large scale, permanent installation at Parque La Carolina in Quito, Ecuador.