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marksearch designs interactive opportunities to amplify & preserve diverse neighborhood narratives

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For more than two decades, Oakland-based marksearch, led by cultural researcher, artist, and educator Sue Mark, has been collaboratively designing interactive opportunities for communities to amplify and preserve neighborhood narratives in Oakland, across California, nationally and internationally. marksearch explorations have been presented in cities throughout the US and in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, Norway, and Portugal.  

marksearch projects highlight neighborly relationships and tensions arising from economic and cultural shifts. We feature local expertise to explore: whose knowledge is valued; connections between longtime and new neighbors; strategies to navigate change while preserving the past. marksearch co-creates with neighbor groups, community organizations, public historians, and local knowledge-bearers. marksearch crafts public conversational commons for sensitive, difficult dialogue. Our projects collectively celebrate and preserve multi-faceted neighborhood narratives.

Commons Archive (2014) gathers and amplifies disappearing neighborhood histories in North Oakland, CA. Skill-sharing workshops, community celebrations, neighbor-led walking tours, interactive story-telling and published community scholarship nurture neighborhood sustainability. The HEAR/HERE Community Billboard, an engaged story-telling vehicle, is Commons Archive’s latest phase for empowerment and connection. Additional marksearch co-productions include a mobile sound memorial marking the Fukushima disaster’s 10th anniversary presented at Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics, and a community-generated social media campaign in San Jose, CA reframing climate change activism.

Their grant-funded work has received support from many agencies including: Berkeley Civic Arts Commission, The California Arts Council, The California Humanities, The Creative Work Fund, The Fulbright Commission, The National Endowment for the Arts, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, Oakland’s OPEN Proposals for Public Art, The San Francisco Art Commission, and The Trust for Mutual Understanding. marksearch, recipients of an Oakland Heritage Alliance Preservation Award, has also been nominated for San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Award of Excellence. marksearch projects have been presented at Tokyo’s Setagaya Museum, Oakland Museum of California, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and The Headlands Center for the Arts. marksearch has been honored with fellowships at the Kala Art Institute (2014-2022) and with the US Japan Friendship Commission (2016, 2019-2021).

They are currently the Community Engagement & Design Specialist for the African American History & Engagement project, a partnership between California State Parks and the California African American Museum to research, document, and interpret Black community histories in California State Parks.