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Review: Laumeier hosts 'super' knit artist

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 25, 2010 - Mark Newport, whose "Mark Newport: Self-Made Man" show is on view now at Laumeier Sculpture Park, is one of the more interesting artists to emerge from the current craft craze in contemporary art, knitting suits for invented superheroes with dubious powers and ambiguous sexual orientation.

"Sweaterman," "Flamer" and "Y-Man" ought to take their place in the superhero pantheon as inspirations to nerdy homebodies who would rather knit than climb buildings, and who prefer reasoned debate to blowing up the enemy.

Newport uses craft to explore all angles of superhero culture, inventing alternatives but also zeroing in on the more fragile, ambivalent aspects of perennial favorites like Batman and Captain America.

A high point of this exhibition is the video "Heroic Efforts" (2009), which shows the artist in a rocking chair, calmly knitting an action suit, to the frantic refrain of the Lone Ranger theme.

Ivy Cooper, a professor of art at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, is the Beacon's art critic.