Mark Parsons


Multiple Sclerosis

Initially I ignored the nuisance symptoms of MS until I abruptly went blind in my right eye in 1999, and was diagnosed.  Since that time I have had an assortment of interesting experiences with my physical body, including initial blindness in my right eye, complete deafness in my left ear, loss of equilibrium, muscular fatigue, and more recently problems walking with my left leg and articulating my left hand.  These are physical, and surmountable, however it is the cognitive component of the disease which is hardest to track.  Memory and language are newer areas of concern, and the hardest to contend with socially.

My artwork and my disease are fundamentally intertwined, though MS is not the topic of the work and therefore I don’t talk about it in lectures, artist statements, or studio visits.  I find it more compelling to focus on mapping information; relationships between micro and macro scales of organization, strategies for identifying the salient information in our environments, and our inescapable subjectivity in these matters. 

I used charts to sail around the world.  I use Magnetic Resonance Imagery to navigate my own brain.  Each has significance in conveying critical information that influences me and those around me.

MS challenges my ability to control myself and my environment.  Many recent works take on a collaborative element.  This is in some ways submitting myself to a stochastic element - a lack of absolute control for the outcome of the work.  That is acceptable to me as long as the lack of control is accounted for.  As a sculptor, it is like responding to the resistance of material.  As an artist, it helps establish an authenticity in the work.  As a person with MS, it portends a need to rely on others.

Moore Portal (detail) 9x12x20ft. steel Hutong (detail) 84x84in. lead/paper SHIFT (detail) 7x27ft. charcoal/paper Self Afflicted 40x60in. lead/paper
Moore Portal (detail)
9' x 12' x 20'
Hutong (detail)
lead on paper
84" x 84"
SHIFT (detail)
charcoal on paper
7' x 27'
Self Afflicted
lead on paper
40" x 60"
Tile Field 10x32ft. bronze/mahogany/birch A Reconstruction 48x84in. pencil/paper Green Bell Triptych #3 42x72in. collaged intaglio prints Arch Space Collaborative 48x76in. ink & lead/paper
Tile Field
bronze, mahogany, birch
10' x 32'
A Reconstruction
pencil on paper
48" x 84"
Green Bell #3
collaged intaglio prints
42" x 72"
Arch Space Collaborative 1
ink and lead on paper
48" x 76"