MARSHA MACK: Strawberry Coated

Strawberry Coated
JANUARY 11 – MAY 15, 2020

In Strawberry Coated, Marsha Mack launches her latest inquiry into mixed race identity and the commercial symbols and signifiers that inform her experience as a Vietnamese and caucasian American woman. Utilizing visual and scented components in her outdoor installation, the imported, mass-produced confection Pocky is used as an entry point to consider the formation of self via her favorite childhood treat.

Strawberry Coated brings visual and sensory elements out of the pantry and into public space. Tightly bound cotton ropes loop around tree branches and are firmly planted in the ground, creating fan-like structures. Mimicking Pocky’s strawberry cream dipped biscuits, taut ropes are dipped in pink strawberry flavored encaustic. Viewers become intimate with the work via rich textures and an aggressively saccharine scent that lingers over The Yard. Part exercise in nostalgic reconciliation and part sugar-coated fantasy, Strawberry Coated romanticizes retail spaces and culls authentic emotion from grocery store shelves.

Deconstructing and complicating the relationship between personal identity and retail market systems is a longstanding theme in the sculptures and installations of Marsha Mack. Strawberry Pocky, one of Mack’s favorite childhood candies, reemerged in her adulthood as the focus of obsessive exploration. Through candies and sweets that are ubiquitous to Asian grocery stores, Mack envisions the public space of the asian market as the foundation of understanding her mixed race heritage. Food preference, which speaks to both individual and larger cultural practices, here functions as a revolving door that unceasingly alternates personal preference, ethnic identity, and commercial forces.

Marsha Mack (b. 1987, San Rafael, CA) holds an MFA in ceramics and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Women’s and Gender Studies from Syracuse University, and a BFA in ceramics from San Francisco State University. Mack’s texturally rich, process-intensive sculptures and performances focus on decadence, decoration, and beauty, with an emphasis on materiality. Aesthetically a maximalist, Mack is a firm believer that more is more. With materials ranging from glazed ceramic to candy wrappers, ideas are pursued through layered textures, colors, and sensory experiences. Frequently leaning on ideas of personal vs universal symbol, nostalgia, and mixed race identity for conceptual grounding, Mack’s approach honors playfulness and introspection as equals. She has exhibited artwork and projects with the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (Denver, CO), Black Cube Nomadic Museum (Englewood, CO), Lane Meyer Projects (Denver, CO), PØST Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (Milwaukee, WI). Marsha is currently a ceramics instructor at Foothills Park and Recreation District (Littleton, CO), the Associate Director of David B. Smith Gallery (Denver, CO), and is an artist in residence at RedLine Contemporary Art Center (Denver, CO).

This exhibition is supported by a grant from the INSITE Fund, administered by RedLine Contemporary Art Center and made possible by the The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.