Lina Marks: Paper Mosaics
When French-born Lina Marks moved to the United States, she began raising a family and pursuing a career. She also discovered and nurtured her love of the arts. Although gifted with a talent to communicate through a variety of media from marble to pastels, Marks casually regarded these artistic pursuits as “just a hobby.”
After a museum visit to view the works of American collagist Romare Bearden (1911-1988), Marks became energized by the challenge of crafting a piece using collagist techniques. She began to gather interesting pages of paper from old magazines, books and project scraps and set about interpreting the world around her through swatches of colors.
Marks is hesitant to call her pieces “collage,” which she believes implies an assemblage of different kinds of materials and images pieced together to form a whole. Instead, Marks calls her art “paper mosaics.” She uses one material—paper—for her work, composing an entire picture by overlapping quarter-inch squares of colored paper.
Her technique involves a great deal of forethought and paper sleuthing, trying to find just the right shade for complex contrasts using only the solid colors extracted from magazines. Marks begins each piece with grid paper, drawing her picture and then assigning a color to each grid. Looking through stacks and stacks of magazines she has spent years collecting, Marks finds the color she wants and creates a graph on the back of her chosen magazine page, cutting out quarter-inch-square pieces and gluing them to complete a scene. Her completed scenes are imaginatively composed and detailed landscapes, interior spaces and portraits.
After creating her mosaics for several years, Marks knows about paper quality and says that not all paper is created equal. Some papers are too grainy or smooth in texture, some are too heavy or too light in stock. This causes frustrations when, after finding a perfect shade of pink for a sunset, for example, Marks discovers that a paper square will not be suitable for the piece as a whole. A finished piece is usually 9 x 12 inches and takes between 40 and 50 hours to complete.
Marks first showed her paper mosaics at Jamaica Plain Open Studios (JPOS) in 2002, while exhibiting her work alongside her daughter, popular Jamaica Plain monoprint artist Nancy Marks. Both mother and daughter will be showing at this year’s JPOS, and examples of their works can be found at www.jpopenstudios.com.
JPOS is celebrating its 15th year as the premiere annual arts event in JP. JPOS showcases 220 artists at 75 sites. The event is open to the public and will take place Sept. 27 and 28 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. this year. For more information and to preview artists’ work, visit www.jpopenstudios.com or call 943-7819.
JPOS is supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council, a local agency which is funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, administrated by the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events.
The author is a volunteer with the Jamaica Plain Arts Council.