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OSU Art Museum features Mark Sisson in light of his retirement

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Mark Sisson did not choose Oklahoma State, it chose him.

Sisson has shared his passion for art with his students for 32 years at OSU and it will honor his legacy with a retrospective exhibition at the OSU Museum of Art. Sisson is an OSU professor of printmaking, drawing and 2D design in the Department of Art, Graphic Design and Art History.

U.S politics and life at OSU, focusing on the human condition and human interaction are the aspects that influence Sisson's art. He expresses these ideas satirically through drawing, printmaking and painting media. 

 “The things that inspire me more aesthetically are art history, presidents and I’m interested in things like baroque lighting,” Sisson said.

His art is presented across the U.S. in museums, universities and books. OSU Museum of Art will house 17 of Sisson’s pieces in an exhibition, Themes on Being, in light of his retirement next summer. 

 “Sisson reimagines the modern political cartoon genre through exquisite naturalistic precision and presents his forms with new clarity. Most of his artworks comment on critical contemporary topics such as lack of clean water and racial violence while other works capture life’s purest moments of joy and grief,” according to the OSU Museum of Art.

His teaching journey came unexpectedly as he didn’t think about it as an art career until he attended graduate school. He found that art is a broad career path with a lot of avenues.

“I was very impressed with my instructors at that level because they seemed passionate about working with the students and they were also expected to do their own scholarship, which was making their art and exhibiting (it), so that seemed like a wonderful mix,” Sisson said.

With responsibilities as an artist and as a professor, Sisson finds balance in his work because of the enthusiasm that making art and teaching it brings. His students, for example, Emma Bunch, a studio art senior, value his teaching style.

“I would describe his teaching style as perfect for those who are passionate and want to learn. Mark Sisson has a rich knowledge of his field, and places an emphasis on craftsmanship,” Bunch said.

Bunch viewed the collection at the museum, and although it shows only a small selection of Sisson’s work, she said it is an excellent representation.

“I think people need to see this show and spend time actually looking at his work. There are so many intimate details that are lost with a quick glance,” Bunch said.