by Ken Kemp
Growing up near the woods and the bluffs around Central Wisconsin, young Mark Dziewior explored the trails and creeks in the company of all sorts of wild-life. Rabbits and squirrels, raccoons, deer, fox and wolf were his neighbors and friends. Just up the hill lived a family of caretakers. They corralled animals with injuries or missing limbs taking them in and then bringing them back to health and strength. They all grew attached. It was a bittersweet celebration to release them, healthy, into the wild.
Barely school age, Mark would drop in and help. He held a cougar cub to his chest, hearing the soft purr and feeling the warmth and soothing vibration of the little wildcat’s contentment. He would feed a fawn from a milk bottle or put a stint on a broken leg or nurse a lost bunny rabbit who lost his mother. With these friends, he experienced the magical transformation: from dependence to independence.
A reader from the start, Mark lost himself in the world of fantasy - classics like Charlotte’s Web, Watership Down and The Wind in the Willows. The idea that creatures shared human traits seemed as natural as the sunrise.
These experiences stayed with him as he would sketch and draw. Sadly, Mark’s mom died when he was very young. Raised by a supportive father and a caring older brother (14 years ahead), they praised his depictions of life in the forest, field and stream. But he knew he needed gainful employment. The thought that there might be a career in the studio barely occurred to him. So, he went off to Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design to study graphic design.
He landed a job - but soon decided that the demands of corporate marketing, with all the expectations and drudgery and deadlines pushed him toward higher education. He was drawn to art history and the masters. His curiosity had little to do with dates and names and periods and the data set of the classics. Rather, he was attracted to color and light and the wonder of capturing scenes and expressing emotion. The great masters spoke to him, and he began to paint.
He completed this undergraduate degree at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in fine arts. Invited to teach back at the Tech college, he developed an appetite to invite his students in to the world of art. He challenged them to both study and create; to find their ability to see truth and beauty on the canvas and express themselves in the medium.
In graduate school, his professors imposed systems and structures that Mark found restrictive and de-motivating. He knew he had to perform; but early on, he concluded that art is not a performance. If you are working to simply please a teacher or to fulfill a list of requirements, the artistic impulse dies. He concluded that some of his professors were not really teachers at all, but rather “pseudo-intellectuals” (as he calls them) who took more pride in their academic vitae than their art.
Across the campus, he encountered a fine sculptor on the faculty. His work energized Mark. He had an interest in sculpting, and under this professor’s watchful eye, he gave it a try. That set mark on a whole new path.
To this day, Mark and that professor are the closest of friends. Curiously, on the painting side of the campus, that portion of the faculty rebuked Mark for turning away from the canvas. His fascination with the very different three-dimensional expression of sculpting captured his imagination. Undeterred, he completed his thesis and a Master of Arts - and then the highest degree in the field, an M.F.A. (Master of Fine Arts), both from U.W. He began to sculpt in earnest.
Here’s how he describes it on his web site: "I began a serious pursuit of sculpting, which opened a whole new world for me. I found that I could bring a depth and breadth to my subjects through sculpture that I missed when creating two-dimensional art."
Just after completing his graduate work, he returned to his love of the animal world. He studied anatomy and structure and combined the natural images of his favorite animals with what he calls an “anthropomorphic twist.” We humans are wondrously and inherently drawn to animals, and they to us. You’ll see this unique signature of Mark’s perspective in his subject’s bright eyes or the hint of a smile or the tilt of the head. Be sure to check out the gallery of his work.
Loveland, Colorado is a Mecca for world-class sculptors. The best foundries around the globe are located here. At the Annual Summer Festival, Mark Dziewior and Angela de la Vega have occupied the same exhibit tent for several years now. As colleagues and acclaimed artists, they have become close friends.
Mark’s work was featured at FLITE’s art show in Dallas this past September. His work was well-received. His sculptures are also featured at the famed Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.
Mark believes in the work of FLITE. As a professor of art and a lover of the animal kingdom, he affirms the healing and confidence and empowerment that accompanies the creative process. He has experienced it in himself, he’s seen it in his students, and in the smiling giggles of the children who encounter his enchanting images - their form, their shape, their texture and their vibrant presence.
Mark Dziewior’s art is an invitation to joy.