A Space Between Mediums: The Art of Ngrained, Inc. August 15 2017, 0 Comments « Back to Blog
Asymbol very proudly presents “A Space Between Mediums”: The Art of Mark Landvik and James Johnson. As the founders of industry art collective Ngrained Inc., Mark and James utilize mediums and methods that skillfully dance between innovation and tradition . Both of them use art to honor their respective heritages and paths, James by using the ancient Tlingit “form-line” of his ancestors, while Mark continues to broaden and push the wood working skills that he cultivated in his youth. A Space Between Mediums opens on the eve of the Total Eclipse, a fortuitous event that highlights both Mark and James’ vision significantly.
Join us AUGUST 18TH at 7pm for a uniquely Asymbol Event that will be nothing short of illuminating!
Asymbol sat down with Mark and James to chat about the upcoming show and the road that brought them there.
ASYMBOL: Give us the Ngrained Inc. origin story
MARK LANDVIK: Filming for The Art Of Flight, the last season, two weeks in I blew my knee fully out. So I came home, started rehab and decided that since I’d been in construction with my dad since I was ten, wood working was something that I could do. I spent the time dialing in my shop and collaborating with friends. James Johnson and I grew up together in Alaska. We also played on the same football team. His father passed away and gave him a bunch of cedar, a traditional carving wood for the Tlingkit tribe and he started working with it. About two years ago Jamie Lynn spent some time hanging out at my house about two summers ago and we started collaborating. From there James and I took off with it. It just kind of evolved from there. Working alone would get boring, so the collaboration helped me to see things differently. That was the stem of it.
JAMES JOHNSON: Mark and I grew up together in Alaska, we share the same roots. We played little league sports together as kids, and grew up snowboarding together also. I had kept in touch with him over the years, as I got into art, he’d trade one of my masks for his snowboards, he called it trading “my art for his art.” Then, 3 Years ago, I got a call from him randomly saying he’s having a bunch of artists up to his house in Bellingham, WA and wanted to fly me up from Arizona for the weekend to do some art. I remember Jamie Lynn picked me up at the airport, I noticed he had a Raven Design on his jacket, and told me how much he’s into Northwest Native Art. That was really cool to hear, I’ve been such a fan of his art, and his riding. But, Lando put a piece of wood in front of me and said do whatever you want. I turned out an “Eagle” piece in 2 days on this beautiful live edge maple slab. I remember painting and Jamie saying, “I’m tripping to see this in person.” Cool he's such a fan of the art form, he asked me to teach him. The whole weekend was awesome, got to hang out and meet a lot of inspiring people. Then, when Mark dropped me off at the airport he told me about N-Grained Inc., and said I want you to be an artist for it. That was the beginning for me.
ASYMBOL: What is the link between your snowboarding and your art?
ML: I think snowboarding has given me the opportunity to see life in a different perspective than most people. The goals and the regiment offer a different out look on almost anything that I want to do. There’s an art form to snowboarding. Style is the backbone of how I ride. Jamie Lynn was my biggest snowboard influence so his art has been a huge influence on me now. I have ended up going back to the things that made me happy when I was younger, art, skateboarding etc. I have started to do stuff that I’ve always wanted to do, things that I never had the time to do. Having this outlet has been a good transition from snowboarding to making art.
JJ: The strongest similarity is letting go of thought, both put you in the present moment where nothing exists but what’s in front of you. They teach you to slow the mind down, and create something beautiful.
ASYMBOL: Explain your choice of medium and method.
ML: Wood with concrete combos, metal, copper, led lite geodes. I typically doon’t know what I’m using until Stan (my longtime neighbor) brings it by. He is always coming up with interesting bits and pieces. I want to do everything different if I can. I get bored. It’s all about trying new things, learning new things.
JJ: The Tlingit art form is thousands of years old. The foundation for the art form is called “form-line.” What you see visually in my art carries a lot of rules and guidelines behind it. This foundation was all laid before me by my ancestors. I am carrying on the traditions and culture thru my generation. Traditionally, the art form was passed down from generation to generation thru an apprenticeship system. The peak of the art form is said to be from the late 1700’s to the late 1800’s, everything from that period were beautiful masterpieces. The colonization of Alaska, the rule of the church and government drastically affected the traditions of our people, the people suffered, and the art form suffered. Ceremonies and potlatches were outlawed, the making of “art” was outlawed, and the Tlingit language wasn’t allowed to be spoken. There is a generation gap where the art form was not passed down. A lot of the art was taken, traded, lost, villages were left abandoned. The onset of disease also drastically reduced native populations. The Haida went from 12,000 to 600 people from small pox. Art became extinct, an entire generation suffered, this is why it is so sacred. Fast forward to present day, I feel there is a resurgence of Northwest Native artists that are learning this art form, and doing their part to keep their ancestors traditions alive thru their work. It’s bigger than just me, it’s a connection to my past. The Tlingit did not have a word for “art” - what they did was all part of their culture and tradition. My father told me before he passed that a good Tlingit artist isn’t attached to his work, once it’s done, you let it go. When you’re done, it doesn’t belong to you anymore, it’s for a greater purpose.
ASYMBOL: Why show at Asymbol in Jackson?
ML: Travis has built something similar to Ngrained. A place where you showcase artists and photographers who have been key influencers of our time. Asymbol represents our culture, which is along the the same lines of Ngrained, Inc.
JJ: Asymbol is a gallery I’m honored to be a part of. Asymbol carries a high standard for quality, a lot of prestigious artists I’m inspired by are Asymbol Artists. I am attracted to passionate people, people who share the same vision as I do, Asymbol is that.
ASYMBOL: Break down the theme of the show, Space between Mediums:
ML: We are using many different mediums and coupled with the eclipse, the theme made sense. I’ve been reading random stuff about the eclipse and realized that Einstein utilized an eclipse to prove his theory of relativity. He did this by taking a photo during an eclipse and using it to show that space bends. Look it up. It’s extremely interesting.
JJ: This is Lando’s creation for the name. We’ve always pushed the progression of what mediums we can work with.
ASYMBOL: How has working with and creating art effected/changed your life?
ML: There’s no set regiment and I love that. It’s built my life in to something special. It’s changed my perspective. The collaboration element is huge. Working with other people who share that same energy has changed my life.
JJ: I’ve dedicated my life to this art form. This gift was placed into my hands, it’s my privilege to carry it thru my lifetime then pass it on. It’s a constant progression, finding balance in your work, the complexity of the art form I will spend my life learning. I do it to honor my late father Franklin Johnson, my Grandfather Chief Peter Johnson, and my Great Grandfather Chief Jimmy Johnson of Angoon. I am named after them. I do this in their honor, one day I hope to pass the art form down to my son Elias to carry thru his life-time. That's all.
All photos shot by Brad Andrews