Selected works by Meredyth Sparks

Meredyth Sparks
Gudrun Constructed I-V


Digital scan, aluminium foil, glitter, vinyl

5 parts, each 152.4 x 106.7 cm

Meredyth Sparks enjoys exploring the zone between figuration and abstraction across a variety of subjects for which a plethora of images already exists: musical subcultures (bulimic in the idolatory-image department), the historical avant-garde and what she calls the “ever-evolving legacies of labor and gender-based issues”.

Meredyth Sparks
Untitled (Brian Jones)


Plexiglas, aluminium foil, glitter, digital scan

244 x 131 cm

Like a number of her fellow artists in Out of Focus, she allows her works to step out of conventional frames and spill across floors and walls in quasi-Constructivist style, following El Lissitzky’s realization that the picture frame had become too narrow for representations of ‘the new reality’.

Meredyth Sparks


Digital print on Sintra, 27 pieces

182 x 171 x 231 cm

El Lissitzky was diametrically opposed to the absolutely non-utilitarian Suprematism of Kasimir Malevich, whose spirit returns in Sparks’ Gudrun Constructed to engage in ideological battle with Gudrun Ensslin, a founding member of the violently revolutionary Baader-Meinhof Gang. Sparks combines Malevich motifs, photographs, vinyl, aluminium foil and glitter (which I take to stand for the seductive, even hypnotic power of all photographic imagery) to create a part-digital, part-physical, five-section collage that reads almost cinematographically, but like a snippet of film, recalling collagist Paul Nash’s observation that “The more the object is studied from the point of view of its animation, the more incalculable become its variations; the more subtle becomes the problem of assembling and associating different objects in order to create that true irrational poise which is the solution of the personal equation".

Meredyth Sparks


Digital scan, Plexiglas with aluminum foil and glitter, digital print

243.8 x 238.8 cm

Text by William A Ewing


April 2010, by Roberta Smith, The New York Times

In the two years since her first solo show in New York, Meredyth Sparks has ventured forth from the sanctums of relatively austere photo-appropriation. She continues to combine collage and photomontage, to use glitter and aluminum foil. But she has bulked up her efforts in every way. She now works on good-size canvases and even a folding screen, as well as on sheets of paper, piling on images and materials that evoke textiles, knitting, handwoven fabrics and sundry domestic activities and involve woodcut printing and an occasional allusion to Russian Suprematism. In addition, Ms. Sparks commissioned the artist Corrie Hogg to make door snakes of fabric stuffed with beans. They lie in wait in the second gallery.
The jagged, layered, generally abstract composition of these works can incorporate paisley fabric and pictures of paisley fabric, as well as windowpane Harris tweed. The aluminum foil is now smooth, crumpled or reproduced, while the glitter can be mixed in the paint or applied in thick furlike forms that resemble fabric cut like a dress pattern. Other pieces of fabric show signs of having patterns cut out of them. Similar shapes, cut from red, yellow and blue acetate (suggesting three-color reproduction), are layered onto wire hangers. Meanwhile a small projection on the screen reads “U can erase history,” which cuts both ways: you can be eliminated from history, but you can also erase and rewrite it.
These works have a slightly generic abstract-collage resemblance that Ms. Sparks needs to reduce, although the evocation of Barry Le Va’s large abstract drawings, whether deliberate or accidental, is refreshing. (At least it is better than the usual emphasis on his early running-into-walls performance pieces.) In general Ms. Sparks has increased the visual and tactile liveliness of her art, greatly intensifying the cross talk that has always been central to it.


2010, Ana Finel Honigman, Dazed Digital

Photoshopped images of Ian Curtis, Kraftwork, Gudrun Ensslin and other seventies stars of gritty rock reality sport glitter, foil and other bling at "We were strangers for too long", Meredyth Sparks' first solo show at New York's Elizabeth Dee gallery. The slice of the seventies that Sparks idealizes is the one that the Tennessee-born artist sees not just as glam, but that stands as "a bellwether point of resistance".

To drive her point home, Sparks has created a wall installation inspired by the radical life and questionable death of Andreas Baader, head of the militant left-wing West German Red Army Faction (RAF) movement. Baader's name is not only notorious for his group's misdeeds. It also arises as the "Baader-Meinhoff phenomenon" in which, right after one discovers an esoteric fact or phrase, it seems to keep popping up everywhere. Spark's particular pop-culture fixations might be idiosyncratic and quirky, but she makes them so bright that we want to look and look again.


by Abraham Orden

Ever doodle on the faces of your favorite celebrities as they appear in magazine pages with felt-tip pen, creating mustachioed, mutant superstars? There's something similarly nihilistic and idolatrous about artist Meredyth Sparks's new series of collages. Sparks scans iconic images (or images of icons) from record covers like New Order's Power, Corruption and Lies to images of a gorgeous young Prince strutting his stuff or Olivia Newton John belting her heart out. Then she crops, flips, duplicates, and generally manipulates them before partially blotting out her prints with Reynolds Wrap and glitter. This kind of aesthetically advanced doodling creates semi-abstract constructions that are both blasphemous and sharply elegant.

Like her fellow appropriationists Wade Guyton and Kelley Walker, Sparks's working process kicks off in the virtual realm of the digitally enhanced collage, the place where technology dusts up reality. But what sets the Tennessee-born artist's cut-and-paste interventions formally apart from those of her (male) artistic counterparts is her postdigital application of the shiny, sparkly stuff, which makes for cattily glamorous collages. A few powder-puff globes of glitter and a thin diagonal line of foil slicked over the Power, Corruption and Lies cover make its dying roses look as though they got caught in the crossfire of a snowball fight between constructivist Kasimir Malevich and a particularly bling fashionista. The doubled shot of Prince thrusting and plucking at his guitar is broken up by thin, jagged streaks of foil, as if The Artist got on the wrong side of a rather large cat.

Both felines and glitter were already in place in Sparks's MFA thesis show at Hunter College in 2003. She installed drawings of gamboling cats in a room filled with big heaps of glittery snowballs, suspended from the wall as if caught mid-fall, and let fake snowdrifts threaten to cover a rather elegant red and black plywood sculpture. The snowballs recalled Yayoi Kusama's installations of hundreds of steel or mirrored balls (see her Public Art Fund Project for the 2004 Whitney Biennial, Narcissus Garden) and, like the "infinity nets" the Japanese artist constructs from her dots and balls, the snow threatened an imminent whiteout, mentally as well as visually.

Sigmund Freud saw rearranging his patients' memories in chrono-logical order-filling in the blots, as it were-as key to unscrambling his patients' hysteria; Sparks and her predecessors, most significantly Cady Noland, collapse the very concept of chronological order into a jumble of free-associative references by contaminating pre-existing images with their own artistic input. After all, if history itself is replete with tears and ruptures, memory might also be a jagged, nonlinear construct. Bring on Sparks's shiny contamination.