Meet the Artist: Mark Lillquist

Mark Lillquist surrounds himself with art, whether it be music, painting, or food. The Emanuel County Institute art teacher finds himself “flowing with the spirit” of creation often.

Lillquist got his start as an experimental artist in high school. He worked and liked to spend money at the art store. The beautiful colors of nupastels caught his eye, and he experimented with most mediums, except for oil paints, which he discovered later. Around the same time, Lillquist dreamt of being in a rock-n-roll band.

After he graduated from Walton High School in 1986, Lillquist joined the Navy from 1988 to 1992. He worked as a meteorologist assistant in the U.S.S. Midway and at Naval Air Station Alameda in California. He graduated from Shorter University in 2000 before ultimately embarking on a career as an art teacher. He taught at Upson Lee Middle School until 2005, at which point he came to ECI.

Teaching seemed like the obvious choice of career for Lillquist. He values honorability and community service as well as the long summer vacations that allow him to focus on music and art. This has given him time to release an album this year called “The Underground Network,” which is available on all digital media outlets. Lillquist describes this album’s style as “classic folk and pop rock,” but he is currently pursuing a more “jazzy,” instrumental style that he can perform as a one-man act.

Because he values kindness, humility, and generosity, Lillquist gives away his paintings.

“I feel like the old saying ‘money is the root of all evil’ has more than a kernel of truth in it. I consider the world to be caught up in a current of thought that I call ‘pragmatic materialism.’ If you go down to the river to get some water, the ground may give way and the next thing you know, you are being swept downstream (in a stream of thought). Pragmatic materialism is a new name for an old concept: the financial bottom line defines what is right and wrong.”

He describes art as “the physical expression of the contemplative real.”

As for the future of his art, Lillquist will continue painting, and he is currently working on a stage show where he will present medium-textured jazz. Although he loves his job and feels like Emanuel County is the best place he has ever lived, when he retires, he hopes to be able to travel and play music.

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