Marcos Antonio was born in Baitoa, a small town in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. At the age of five, he became a laborer to help support his family of 11. In 1971, the family emigrated to New York and a few years later Marcos Antonio enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he served for six years.
In 1995, Marcos sold a successful cosmetics business to dedicate himself entirely to painting, his life-long passion. Marcos has supported the arts by serving as a member of many organizations including the Providence Renaissance City Film Festival, the Hispanic Council for the Arts, and the Providence School Board’s advisory committee.
Marcos has exhibited his art work at dozens of venues on three continents and has spoken about Latin American art at museums and galleries since 1995. He has appeared on television to speak about his artwork including NBC, CBS, CNN, NPR and many cable channels. He has also been interviewed on various radio stations and appeared in articles in local newspapers.
As Director of the Providence Festival of New Latin American Cinema from 1999 through 2002, Marcos brought film makers, artists, writers and others to the film festival in Providence. He recruited influential individuals such as actor Danny Glover to serve as board members and traveled to different countries to meet film directors and producers and to view and select the films for the film festival.
In 2001, Marcos convinced actor Anthony Quinn to allow the use of his name to create an award honoring his career and achievements. Mr. Quinn donated one of his sculptures to serve as the physical representation of The Anthony Quinn Life Achievement Award in Film and the Arts. In April 2002, Antonio Banderas was the first recipient of the Anthony Quinn Achievement Award. The National Council of La Raza now gives the Anthony Quinn Life Achievement Award for excellence in motion pictures as an ALMA Award.
Since 1995, Marcos has devoted much of his time to his artwork. In 2007, Marcos embarked on a global quest where he facilitates the creation of humanity’s own work of art. He is travelling to 193 countries to capture hand impressions of people from all walks of life to create the largest painting on canvas in the world. He is calling this artwork “Impressions of Humanity (Impressions).” Since 2009, Marcos has visited countries in North America, South America and Africa and has gathered over 38,000 hand impressions.
The ultimate goal of Impressions is to get approximately one million hand impressions on 960 panels measuring 5 feet x 9 feet. The plan is to get 5,300 hand impressions per country. Gathering hand impressions is laborious and time consuming for Marcos; therefore, less than nine countries per year will be visited and hand impressions collected. The total time for completion of the Impressions project will be approximately 20 years.
The Impressions project is truly unique yet its greatest impact is not merely the canvasses. The compelling imagery is in each story, event, hunger, thirst, and hardship experienced to achieve the many colorful and childlike canvasses. Every country visited relates stories that are compelling and moving such as the touching account of a tiny Indian woman from Guatemala. When the woman heard about the project, she traveled for many hours with her three children. When the Indian woman found Marcos, the equipment and supplies had been put away. She begged that her children’s hand impressions be taken. She said that it was extremely important for her kids to participate in this worldwide artwork. She could not read or write and had so little to give her children. This would be her gift to them.
An integral part of this project is to highlight and celebrate the commonalities and differences among people from around the world by collecting and sharing panels of colorful hand impressions. Starting in 2013, the canvasses, participant portraits and videos of the artwork’s creation will be exhibited in museums, universities and other public locations worldwide. The slideshow of participant pictures will be accompanied by music gathered from countries visited.
Many participants have voiced a desire to be part of something larger than themselves and have expressed their joy at being included in this worldwide artwork. People from every country in the world have tales to tell and the Impressions project aspires to record many of them.