Our annualBest of Phoenix
issue is upon us and everyone at thePhoenix New Times
is pretty jazzed. So jazzed, in fact, that we thought we'd track down a former AZ resident who shares our love for this year's theme:
Mark Newport left us in 2007. During his six-year stay in the Valley, Newport made a name for himself with his unique art pieces. He knits full-body superhero outfits. Some are taken from pop culture and others are original characters.
Newport now lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and teaches at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. And, yes, he still knits.
(See some Q&A with this superhero obsessed artist after the jump.)
Superheroes are symbols for protection, and represent childhood dreams of what you might become, values in the culture of what a man or woman should be, like heroes in Greek myths. They are also enforcing their own values and rules on the society they are actors in so there is an edge of the vigilante forcing others to do something.
What does it feel like to wear your superhero outfits?
They are hot and it is hard to see what is around me usually.
How and when did you originally get the idea for knitting costumes?
I started the costumes in 2003 when I lived in Mesa. I don't remember exactly how the idea came to me but it was a combination of worrying about protecting my young children, thinking about past work, and all of the news about protecting the border, and the country in general from terrorists and other people.
Traditionally knitting is associated with women so in the costumes it contradicts the the hyper-masculine image of the male heroes I knit costumes for. Knitting is also a quiet, labor intensive process which is another contradiction to our expectations of superheroes and their dynamic activities.
Who is your favorite superhero?
Batman, because he made himself a hero through money and training -- it was not born to him or some kind of scientific accident.
Have you made up your own superheros?
I have made up a few, Bobbleman, Argyleman, F-Man, most of them fall under the name Sweaterman and their power is the ability to generate a force field when they knit.
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Which is your favorite superhero outfit?
Generally, my favorite is the one that is just finished or that I am working on. That said, I am also very happy with Bobbleman, Batman 3, and W-Man.
If you could be a superhero, which would you be?
I am very content being who I am.
Are you ready for some real superhero action? Our Best Of Phoenix issue hits stands this Thursday, Sept. 30. Check out more superhero coverage including a superhero collection, How to Become a Caped Crusader (in Five Easy Steps) ...