Artist Mark Fleuridor Discusses Haitian Identity and Religion As Inspiration
AS A COLLECTIVE, WE WANTED TO TAKE TIME TO HIGHLIGHT THOSE THAT ARE DOING THE HARD WORK OF PURSUING THEIR OWN CREATIVE AND ACADEMIC GOALS, WHILE ALSO PAVING THE WAY TO FURTHER THE REPRESENTATION OF MARGINALIZED PEOPLE IN THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES. WE HAVE CALLED THIS SERIES, TAKING OUR SEAT. FOR OUR CURRENT FEATURE, WE SAT DOWN WITH ARTIST, MARK FLEURIDOR.
Mark Fleuridor -he/him pronouns- was born and raised in Miami, Florida. He graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a BFA in painting (2019). He recently completed the Chautauqua Student Residency program in Chautauqua, NY and is attending the Vermont Studio Residency this summer (2019). Fleuridor explores his own personal history within his Haitian background and familial religious experiences. These topics are explored through mediums such as painting, performance, quilting and collage.
SPEAKER GUIDE | AB: AKEA BRIONNE & MF: MARK FLEURIDOR
AB: So Mark, a lot of your work explores your personal history and your Haitian background. Can you speak on that a bit? What about your family, personal history, and culture inspires your work and how is it present in your creations?
MF: My work stems from my childhood relations and how it affects me to this day. Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my family and they made me into the person I am today. I often move between different ideas but it all stems from my family and their lives. Sometimes I want to honor them and sometimes I want to depict the things that affect them. I want to create art that other Haitian or Caribbean descendants can relate to.
AB: You move between a lot of mediums, including fiber work, screen printing, performance art, collage, and painting (both traditional and digital). How do you decide what medium to create in? Is this an intuitive decision or do you plan out what materials you will use to create, beforehand?
MF: Working between mediums is an intuitive decision. Honestly it comes down to what excites me or challenges me the most. Me moving to work with fiber was a way to experiment and challenge myself. I continued to work with fiber based works because of its ability to transform. Other times I choose materials that translates the idea or image I am trying to depict the best.
AB: There is a lot of religious symbolism present in your work, that is sometimes very subtle. From certain gestures of your subjects, to color choices, and even compositional arrangements. What is the significance of these symbols in your as an artist? Has your religion and/or religion in general played a large role in your life?
MF: Religion has a huge role in my artwork. Even to the point where my art becomes solely about religion and its effects on my family. Growing up in a Haitian Christian household I experienced a lot of things that I still think about to this day. For example, ritualistic acts of healing that I experienced and also just not wanting to wake up early in the morning for church. Religion comes naturally in my work. My artwork focuses on my childhood and 70 percent of it involved religion. I used to try to not focus on religion but then it just felt like I was hiding my past or even ashamed of it.
“I used to try to not focus on religion but then it just felt like I was hiding my past or even ashamed of it.”
AB: Your quilting work is exceptionally beautiful. I think they demonstrate your ability to create captivating imagery no matter the medium you're working in. Can you describe the process for these pieces?
MF: They all start from a photo from a family album and grows from there. Each quilt has a different process and they do not have a formula to them. Most of it is me reacting to the artwork and seeing what it needs to be completed. Sometimes it takes only a few hours and sometimes it may take months just to finish one artwork.
AB: You just graduated undergrad from MICA. What goals do you have for yourself and your work in the coming few years? Do you feel that your practice will change now that you're out of a school environment?
MF: To be honest, I’m still figuring out my goals right now. I only know one thing that is certain, I want to make art. At this point of my post grad experience I am just “going with the flow” finding opportunities that are the best for my career and financial stability. My art practice is definitely changing after school, the material of my artwork is changing because of my access to facilities right now. With that being said, my art practice is not dependent to a school environment. This summer I’m doing Vermont Studio Center Artist Residency and in the fall I’ll be doing the Oxbow Residency.
AB: I'm always interested in what artists inspire other great artists. So, who's work is inspiring you right now?
MF: My first inspiration is my partner, collaborator and best friend Destiny Belgrave. We have seen each other grow and we converse about each others artwork all the time. Being around Destiny has influenced my artwork. My mentors are Derrick Adams, Didier William, and Morel Doucet. While my close artistic peers include James Balo, Amani Lewis, Paul Verdell, Liana Ambrose-Murray and others with work that speaks to me.