Day 13: Chris Mars
By Sam Reeve
Chris Mars, formerly a drummer for the alternative rock group The Replacements and also a solo musician, now focuses more on his art. He draws a lot of inspiration from his brother, who was diagnosed as a schizophrenic at a very young age.
I’m going to intersperse his art with some quotes from the written statement on his website. I highly encourage you to visit his site and read the full thing, it’s actually quite touching. He puts so much of his experience with his brother and his brother’s mental illness into his art.
At the bottom you’ll find a film he made that incorporates his art, and below that will be some of his music.
I use conventional vehicles such as light and composition and technique to invite the audience to my work. I use these conventional vehicles to specifically lure the viewer into my world, which is a direct product of the World, where Angels can be mistaken for Monsters, and actual Monsters for heroes or kings.
So look closely at my work, look hard. Because I’m trying to show you something beautiful.
In my hands, my version: All art is political in some sense, be it through conformity, reflection, propaganda or rebellion. My paintings are rallies and trials, photographs of a moment when Truth was made public, and Mercy known.
As a child, I found identity with the monsters depicted in film and books. I believed I knew the unfortunates hunted by the angry mobs, the freaks that fall victim to a gang mentality, which harbors ignorance. I believed I knew the deep lack of understanding plaguing these monsters.
In each piece, I am freeing my brother. I am creating a monument to him and those like him. I rescue Joe from the oppressive institutions of the 1960s, the stereotypes of society here today. Through my work, I challenge the cultural system that finds it easier to turn their heads, their hearts, away. I urge the viewer to consider the beauty, on a grand level, of that which may appear ugly at first.
I want people to consider the beauty that lives beneath the veneer of my troubled figures and faces. Through my work, it is my intention to bring these souls forward as a symbol of and a memorial to the many who live with mental illness, those who are labeled and thereby limited by some flaw that is in truth only a fraction of what that whole person is about.
Here is the video I mentioned above. It’s weird and silly, which means you should watch it if you have about 13 minutes to spare, though I couldn’t discern a plot, so I found myself skipping ahead a bit. Below it is some of his music. Enjoy!