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A collage artist based in Los Angeles, Mark Bradford began making abstract collages in the 1990s by using paper products from his mother’s hair salon in South Central Los Angeles. He combined hairpins, tissue end papers for permanents and dyes for coloration.

“Bradford transforms materials scavenged from the street into wall-sized collages and installations that respond to the impromptu networks-underground economies, migrant communities, or popular appropriate of abandoned public space-that emerge within a city. . . .Bradford’s videos and map-like, multilayered paper collages refer not only to the organization of streets and buildings in downtown Los Angeles, but also to images of crowds, ranging from civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s to contemporary protests concering immigration issues.” (art:21)

Bradford earned a BFA (1995) and an MFA (1997) from the California Institute of Arts in Valencia, and then in 2001 earned much attention in the exhibition “Freestyle” of the Studio Museum of Harlem, dedicated to emerging African-American artists. His entry titled Enter and Exit the New Negro, is a large-scale canvas covered with hundreds of end papers arranged in dozens of rows and colored with hair dye.

In more recent pieces, he has incorporated copy paper to suggest technology and the future and remnants of billboards and posters to speak of memory and landscape.

Bradford’s work is represented in the 2004-2005 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach. His entry, Game Recognize Game, is composed of paper-mache soccer balls in front of a wall-size collage that has thousands of small pieces of paper arranged to look like an industrial explosion or perhaps the urban grid of Los Angeles.

In 2008, Mark Bradford, working with New York curator, Dan Cameron, became part of a movement to re-vitalize art activity in New Orleans, which had been much curtailed from Hurricane Katrina. Bradford’s project is builing a structure symbolizing an ark that will be placed at the 1.9 Center for the Arts in the Ninth Ward.

Sources include:
Mark Bradford Art 21 Episode, PBS
Shana Nys Dambrot, “Dye Another Day”, ARTnews, November 2004, p. 141
Carly Berwick, “Encouraging Wards”, ARTnews, October 2008, pp. 66-67

Biography from the Archives of AskART.