One Man’s Trash: Mark Chamness Presents Needlepoint Works in New Exhibition

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While yarn and thread have long been traditional materials for needlepoint, or canvas hand embroidery, CalArts alum Mark Chamness (Art BFA 96) has made do with more unorthodox fibers. His pieces, consisting of what Chamness calls “discarded urban plastic,” are on view in Outside the Mall, running now through Saturday, Dec. 9 at The Hill Street Country Club, an arts nonprofit in Oceanside, California.

The new works in Chamness’ show draw from his training as a painter and his day job as a carpenter, examining “legacies of abstraction” and his daily experiences throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While many have experienced significant changes, cultural shifts, and even supply chain issues as a result of the pandemic, some things haven’t changed much—namely, the prevalence of single-use plastic.

The pieces in Outside the Mall were made of plastic bags littering the beach or caught in the bushes, as well as other found materials. By cutting them into strips and tufting them into his needlepoint, Chamness creates a labor-intensive collage of his immediate environment, thus melding time and space into a single textured image.

The spirit of transforming the discarded is evident in Chamness’ canvas pieces, which resemble abstract topographies and landscapes. Among the works in the show is a 60”x 60” needlepoint fiber art piece fashioned from artificial turf, carpet foam, yarn, and plastic waste. 

“I deal in fragments,” Chamness was quoted in The Hill Street Country Club’s press release. “I love things that are stuffed in between the cracks, that are unimportant, things that are tossed aside.”

Gallery reservations for Outside the Mall can be made at the RSVP link in the event details below. The Hill Street Country Club is open Thursdays through Sundays from 12 to 5 pm.

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PUBLISHED BY Taya Zoormandan

As digital content and social media producer, Taya enjoys lifting up the stories and accomplishments of CalArts' students, alums, and faculty. She fancies herself a visual artist but is really more of an overzealous collector of art supplies.

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