in partnership
Permission for print, website, social press | Installation view of Mark Mitchell: Burial, at the Frye Art Museum, 2013, Mark Mitchell, natural fibers, wood, and hides, Courtesy of the artist © Mark Mitchell | Photo by Mark Mitchell

Artist of the Week: Mark Mitchell

This is the third of a three-part Artist of the Week series sponsored by Seattle Art Museum. We’ll be showcasing the work of the recent winner of the Betty Bowen Award, along with two artists who received special recognition.

If you know a local artist that you would like to see featured in our Artist of the Week series, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Mark Mitchell is the recipient of the Kayla Skinner Special Recognition Award, part of the Betty Bowen award. Mark received $2,500 for this recognition. His medium, hand-sewn textiles, examine issues of ceremony, tribute and mourning. Check out the gallery for photos of his some of his recent projects, intricate burial garments inspired by activist intention.

How long have you been working with textiles? Do you work with other mediums?
I’ve been making things with fabric since I was in grade school. I was always drawn to textiles and needlework, but had to teach myself as it was not looked well on for little boys to learn embroidery. Ha!

Can you tell me about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
Research and feeling, followed by action.

Tell me about where your inspiration for your art comes from.
I’m inspired by a need for social justice. My experience as a long-term AIDS survivor gives me a unique perspective on life, and the fight against AIDS has given me some know-how in the fight against racism. I believe in visibility as a political action.

Do you have a specific "beat" you like best - nature, food, profiles, etc?

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
Once I’ve finished something, I am ready to move on. But the Burial garments are very dear to me.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
My eldest brother was an artist, and that seemed to me to be the highest calling possible. His career was cut short by illness, and my practice is greatly affected by the absence of what would have been his body of work.

If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find it?
I have a piece, “Bow Dress” with Anna Telcs, in the current exhibition at the Frye Art Museum.

What is next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
I’m back and forth to Beirut over the next few months, showing my work Burial and collaborating on a new work with the company of Lebanese choreographer Ali Chahrour. I am overjoyed at the opportunity to share my work with an international audience and to learn about the Middle East from a front row seat.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee?
It depends on the coffee. I prefer drip coffee. I drink it black at home, because I can trust it to be BLACK. It should be opaque. Out, I usually have to add cream and sugar to give it some flavor.