Aleksandra Mir

The Church of Sharpie

NEW YORK—In May 2005, I gathered 16 assistants for a Sharpie-drawing marathon in a large temporary studio in the East Village, New York. We produced twenty huge (190" by 120") drawings outlining the map of the USA, each with commentary on subjects such as the Civil War, space shuttles, state flowers, the American bicentennial, the draft, road-tripping, love, God and the baby boom. Typically I would outline the drawings overnight, and the assistants would come in and ink my outlines during the day and evening, so there were always three shifts running. Over the course of the month, as we listened to the different music everyone brought in and shared lunches and stories, we also invented a language and developed a cult around this magnificent household marker. Words such as ‘Sharpologist’ were invented. A range of up to twelve Sharpie middle-tones was achieved with the fading marker, while ‘black’ took on a different meaning. My assistants, students and graduates from various New York art schools, bore titles such as ‘The Supervisor of Paper Cutting and Protector of Fingertips’, ‘Manager of Middle-tones’ and ‘Secretary of Finesse’. One day Jason Schmidt came over to shoot this photo of us for V magazine. I think it was he who named it The Church of Sharpie