Eric N. Mack Open Studio. Installation view, Locker Plant, May 2023. Photo by Rowdy Dugan.

Eric N. Mack

Eric N. Mack arrived in Marfa fresh from Venice, where he was one of four artists to create new work for an exhibition of treasures from the archives of Condé Nast. Like an angel of Vogue—one of the publisher’s most synonymous magazines—Mack’s installation filled the Palazzo Grassi atrium with swooping drapery and soaring lightness. The material was largely “dead stock,” leftovers from designer production that Mack had collected over many weeks in Italy. Taking a similar approach to his residency at Chinati, he started by sourcing locally. From a thrift store came the John Deere tractor novelty print. The crazy quilt made from silk ties was a vintage store find. The extravaganza of silks and chiffons, the fragment of William Morris upholstery, and piece of African Dutch wax cloth came in the box that his mother mailed from his studio.

Mack is an abstract painter whose work responds to the fluidity and the resilience of his medium. Given its oft-rumored death, why not reincarnate painting on canvas into works that are purely textile? Cutting, sewing, pinning, tearing, dyeing, bleaching (to lighten, to burn holes), he considers the vulnerability of his materials something to work with. Mending is at once drawing and care. Fluent in fashion, he knows fabric to be both language and style. He once dressed an abandoned gas station in Missoni.

At his open studio, a bolt of crimson sheared the length of the light-filled front room where diaphanous panels of maroon, peach, and orange were also suspended from lengths of orange string that performed like lines. The back space was occupied by more singular objects. Wall pieces were belted and woven with strips of pink. An umbrella frame shrugged off an opalescent purple scarf. The artist’s bicycle was casually donned in stripes. Scraps of wire fencing on the floor looked like scratch marks. Throughout the Locker Plant, Mack’s touch was there to be found. A sheet of tissue-thin silk, shot with silver feathers, fluttered in the boiler room, where some past resident had chalked a drawing of birds. On top of the adobe courtyard wall, a dollop of red chiffon was pinned down with a stone.

Eric N. Mack (born 1987 in Columbia, Maryland; lives in New York) received his BFA from The Cooper Union and his MFA from Yale University. At the time of his Chinati residency, he was preparing for his first solo exhibition with Paula Cooper Gallery in November 2023 in New York.