Hand-knit superhero costumes part of new Fairbanks exhibit

Naftaman, by Mark Newport

Alter Egos, an exhibit of hand-knit superhero costumes, embroidered comic book covers and digital prints by Mark Newport opens Jan. 17 in Fairbanks Gallery.

Newport’s work combines references to superheroes with textile work in an exploration of the social and personal elements of gender roles. His knit superhero costumes form the foundation for his work in print, photography, and performance, and develop the adventures of “Sweaterman” Newport’s alter ego.

“My hand knit acrylic re-creations of these heroes’ costumes combine their heroic, protective, ultra masculine, yet vulnerable personas with the protective gestures of my mother – hand knit acrylic sweaters meant to keep me safe from New England winters,” says Newport. “The costumes are life-size, my size, wearable objects that hang limply on hangers challenging the standard muscular form of the hero and offering the space for someone to imagine themselves wearing the costume, becoming the hero.”

“The superhero costumes are based on comic book characters and childhood memories of the ultimate man – the Dad every boy wants, the man every boy wants to grow up to be,” continues Newport. “In these I work to forge the link between childhood experience and an adult understanding of protection, masculinity, and heroism.”

In addition to the iconic super heroes are characters such as Sweatermen, Valueman, and Naftaman, who are heroes of his own invention. “In these I work to forge the link between childhood experience and an adult understanding of protection, masculinity, and heroism,” says Newport.

A hand-knit superhero costume by Mark Newport.
Newport’s work has been recognized with awards from Creative Capital and the Kresge Foundation.  His work is included in the collections of the Detroit Institute of Art, The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The Greg Kucera Gallery and Lemberg Gallery represent his work. Newport is the Artist-in-Residence and Head of Fiber at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, one of the most prestigious design schools in the United States.

Fairbanks Gallery is free and open to the public Monday–Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon. The exhibit concludes on Feb. 8.

For more information: Douglas Russell (541) 737-5009 or drussell@oregonstate.edu

Or see the website at http://oregonstate.edu/fairbanksgallery

One Response to “Hand-knit superhero costumes part of new Fairbanks exhibit”

  1. Helene, CLA says:

    Cool! Can I try one on?