Evelyn Markasky lives in Santa Cruz, California, but started her life in an edgy little steel town with a large immigrant population in Youngstown, Ohio. Life in Youngstown was shaped by steel and she is left with the image of the nighttime sky glowing pink from the blast furnaces 24 hours a day. It is this image she has subconsciously recreated in her studio with her torch; heating, soldering, coloring, and melting metal, not quite 24 hours a day, but close.
Markasky is Greek; art is in her blood. She is the youngest of 3 children born with a pencil in her hand. She was extremely shy and lived on a busy street with hardly any kids her age, so a lot of time was spent staring at the shadows and drawing. Growing up in the 60’s during the Viet Nam war and an era of musical genius and protest, she was given the gift of rebelling and questioning everything. When told she couldn’t do something a certain way, well that was the first way she’d have to try it. Early on she was fascinated by images of her face, at first drawing self portraits and contour drawings almost every day for years and later putting her face on copy machines and using those images in her art along with writing and poetry. A lifelong search of the eternal question ‘who am I’ and ‘where do I come from?’
Markasky spent many of her college years in photo booths, creating images to use for her BFA in sculpture where she incorporated sculpture, jewelry, conceptual art, and comedy – not necessarily in that order. Her photo booth images became a ritual, and an obsession. They have been painted on silk, silk-screened, enameled, painted, traced, computerized, shrinky-dinked, made into a book, sewn, colored, plastered, etched, and finally cut out of metal.
Obsession plays a strong part in Markasky’s work, after all, what is art if not obsession? Old family photos and photo booth images are a constant that always returns somewhere in her work. She had spent several years doing portraits of old family photos in water color and pastels, but as her children grew up she found herself falling back into sculpture, metalwork, and jewelry. She felt like she had come home. Every bit of new information that she learned in classes and workshops was absorbed into her without any effort. She loved the physical-ness of using torches, hammers, and saws – being able to construct things.
Markasky works in various metals and uses vitreous enamels sometimes for their colors, but mostly as a patina adding texture and an aged effect to her pieces. Her first foray into enameling was torch firing complex-formed metal shapes and problem-solving how to enamel them without them collapsing or falling apart. This curiosity eventually led to experimenting by adding and embedding many unusual things into her enamels like foils, salts, glass, steel, wire, graphite… and finding ways to incorporate the images she has been obsessed with for many years. She uses these techniques with her metalworking skills to create artful jewelry and wall pieces.
Growing up Greek meant going to church on Sundays surrounded and immersed by icons and saints. As she grew older, she was equally attracted to Andy Warhol's work. He used big, colorful, simple, and popular images that she was able to relate to -– Marilyn, Elvis, Elizabeth Taylor, Campbell’s Soup, Brillo. She liked the repetitive, production-like qualities, and how it related to her reality; the sense of rebellion and questioning everything. She reflects his influence along with her history of icons, myths, and superstitions. Along the same lines she is strongly influenced by the strong and symbolic imagery of Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as the rough feel of the punk rock music of Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, the Ramones... Oakland Bay area artist, Deborah Lozier taught her how to be fearless when enameling. Fred Ball’s work changed her life with his experimental enameling and ability to create huge enamel works while still working within his physical limitations.
Markasky has had pieces in the Enamelist Society’s traveling exhibitions Alchemy 1, 2, and 3. She has also exhibited in shows with the Northern California Enameling Guild, the Enamel Guild North East, and several online shows with The Ganoksin Project. She was involved with a Flickr group called Ring A Day (RAD) where she made a ring a day for a year. The group exhibited at the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) conference in Seattle in 2011 and Lark Books has published a book about RAD. She also has jewelry included in the 2013 Lark Book, Showcase 500 art necklaces; Behind the Brooch; Foldforming at 30; Narrative Jewelry: Tales from the Toolbox; and several issues of Belle Armoire jewelry magazine. She received the Jurors Choice award in a Charles Lewton Brain annual fold forming competition. She frequently writes articles about enameling for The Center for Enamel Arts in Oakland, CA.
Markasky has participated & exhibited in many art shows including Santa Cruz Open Studios, Vessel Gallery (Oakland, CA), Studio Seven Arts (Pleasanton, CA) Heidi Lowe Gallery (Rehoboth, DE), Peter Konstantine Gallery (Palm Springs, CA), 1000 Oaks Gallery (Berkeley, CA), Ornamental Metal Museum (Memphis, TN), Xanadu Gallery (Scottsdale, AZ) and the Pajaro Valley Art Council (Watsonville, CA). She also belongs to the Enamelist Society, Crafthaus, Northern California Enameling Guild, Metal Arts Guild, and Enamel Guild North East.
Now that her children have grown up and moved out of the house, Markasky is learning to play the cello and tap dancing (not at the same time – that could be dangerous). This is interesting because Markasky doesn’t have much natural musical ability or rhythm, but she is having a really good time. You might also see the influence of her ghost-hunting hobby in her work, as well as her interest with art and physics.
As an artist, she is always experimenting, trying to find a new way to work with metal and enamels and exploring her connection and relationship of living in this world.