Mark R. Smith continues his exploration of pattern and recycled textiles, creating unconventional objects based on a conceptual framework. Smith manifests his ideas through a labor-intensive process, transforming everyday materials into dynamic, thoughtful paintings. In The Silk Road, Smith examines both the historic trading route through central Asia, and the illicit online commerce site of the same name. His geometrically designed paintings create a continuous circuit mimicking a computer motherboard and referencing the seductive nature of the internet. Smith further studies what was an online blackmarket connection to the ancient trade route connecting the east to the west, in a series of laser cut prints on painted felt. In these prints, resembling half tonal photographs, Smith presents actual screen shots from the darknet marketplace, images of drug paraphernalia alongside figurines, camels and other objects and creatures that might have been found on the original Silk Road.
Smith received his BFA from The Cooper Union (New York, NY) and his MFA from Portland State University (Portland, OR). He has had solo exhibitions at the Office of the Governor (Salem, OR), Northview Gallery at Portland Community College (Portland, OR), Gallery Hlemmur (Reykjavik, Iceland), and the Art Gym at Marylhurst College (Lake Oswego, OR). Smith was included in The Oregon Biennial three times, and received the curator’s award in 1995 and 2001. He has also received many public commissions, including projects with Trimet, Providence Hospital, and the Port of Portland (all Portland, OR). Smith’s work is included in a number of public and private collections, including the American Embassy (Accra, Ghana), CityArts Inc. (New York, NY), King County Public Art Collection (Seattle, WA), Lewis and Clark College (Portland, OR), and Nike Inc. (Beaverton, OR).