Even though he now works in a lab at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Devin Mack '00 never turned his back on his artwork.
After studying cinema and photography at Ithaca College, Mack first served as an art teacher for the city of Baltimore’s public school system. He eventually decided to seek employment elsewhere. It was then that a family friend asked if he would assist her at Hopkins. Though the job she proffered him required no prior experience, Mack’s unique skill set—a “finely tuned spatial sense” in particular—would prove invaluable.
“There are many tasks around the lab that require an artist’s touch,” he says, citing the reconstruction of tiny mouse brains for use in experiments.
But Mack’s artwork is of paramount importance to him. As a student at IC, he spent much of his time in the Ceracche Center. Inspired by figure drawing and the human form, he grew fond of wire sculpture when Professor Raymond Ghirardo challenged him to produce a three-dimensional design from a single spool of wire. From that point forward, Mack loaded up on as many courses in sculpture as he could.
A few years after graduation, he founded Mackwire, a Baltimore-based sole proprietorship specializing in aluminum, copper, and stainless steel sculpture. With a little bit of wire and a few simple tools, Mack can mold inspired creations on the fly—a talent that at times comes in handy for both the sculptor and his patrons.
“My habit to bring a roll of wire with me wherever I go has left me with many fond memories,” he explains, recalling the story of one forgetful groom: “He was freaking out because he had forgotten cufflinks for his shirt, and we were only about 10 minutes from the start of the ceremony. ‘Not to worry,’ I said, and I pulled out a roll of silver wire from my back pocket and saved the day by fashioning him a pair.”
Mack sells his handiwork at art fairs and craft shows throughout the mid-Atlantic region, in Baltimore-area museum gift shops, by appointment at his studio, and on Etsy.com. Even though the cost of metal has increased significantly in the last decade, he says he tries to keep his prices reasonable. He continues to save money by snapping his own photographs and displaying them on Etsy, where he has a shop, and on his website, Mackwire.com.
Mack’s artistic process is guided by an anatomical approach. To achieve the correct composition and proper proportions, he begins by constructing a skeleton that bends and poses. Then he fills in the “flesh,” adding the finer details and finishing touches.
Over the years, Mack has witnessed a change in his work. He says his ability to precisely manipulate wire and openly illustrate his conceptual visions has brought about a style that is more refined yet remains unbridled, his influences representing a juxtaposition of abstraction and hard science.
The sculptures themselves have grown in size and stature, prompting the artist to move Mackwire’s headquarters from the basement of his home to a larger studio space. To a certain extent, his aspirations have shifted, too.
“One of my goals is to see my wire work on a public scale, with large outdoor pieces spread across my city and beyond,” Mack says. “Whether that happens or not, I’m very lucky to be able to make a living doing things that I love.”