Nashville, TN | Sculpture, Mixed Media, Time-based, Sound, Performance, Installation
Christopher M. Lavery has exhibited his work nationally in Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, San Francisco, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, Denver Art Museum, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as internationally in Columbia, Czech Republic, France, Israel, Mexico, Palestine, and Peru. In 2008, he was awarded the Emerging Public Artist Project Grant from the Colorado Percent for the Arts at Denver International Airport for his project entitled Cloudscape; a monumental scale project that won an award in 2010 from the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network and was also featured in the international publication Unexpected Art: Serendipitous Installations, Site-Specific Works, and Surprising Interventions. Christopher has held residency at the well-known Vermont Studio Center where he began to develop a new body of work about the rapidly developing global warming crisis and the melting of the polar icecaps. He is also working with physical computing and rapid prototyping to create 3D sculptural works and installations. In spring of 2016 he will be the Wabash College Presidential Fellow in Digital Arts and Human Values, funded through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
ARTIST STATEMENT PART I (the constant)
The Parameter of Quantifying a Limitation: (or Surviving Art Making in the Postmodern Era).
I am making art, sometimes. To me art is NOT made all the time and quite possibly it is a rare occurrence.
This statement may sound as though I have restricted art making to an infrequent diversion of intention. It is not that I am an occasional artist, but a practitioner of a profession that is able to ask questions as a basis for its objective reality. The artist sees the world differently; critically and profound.
Postmodernism is the Parameter.
I read the dictionary often. I learn new ideas about the words I speak and write with. Within the understanding of “word” or “language” exists a complexity of ideas translated through interpretation. When we speak, others can translate based on how we speak, gesture or carry ourselves through a conversation. Sometimes our identities in society speak for us, before we say a word. When written, language can be formulated. Dictionaries can be used to interpret the word we write to each other. The lexis of information can be agreed upon by a certain set of parameters until one’s intention is to develop a notion of new parameters. When words are read, their meanings are shifted by juxtaposition to other words. The saying “pretty ugly” is confusing. It tells us literally that beauty can be found in ugliness; true. But it also tells us that “pretty” is being used to accentuate how “ugly” is defined. It’s confusing but it is the basis of word play or poetry.
Sometimes I find myself in a parking lot asking what this mechanism is.
I am a practicing artist. I have been trained in a postmodern, academic sensibility. I was brought up in a disadvantaged home ruined by alcoholism, poverty and divorce where art was neither practiced nor appreciated unless it was a depiction of horses, Native Americans, or taxidermy animals. My father, who left my family when I was 8 years old, is an artist. My mother was afraid to tell me anything about him and it was not until after I had decided to follow a career as an artist that I learned he was an artist. Art to me is a conversation between the viewer and the artwork while at the same time the work converses with the history of art. The work embodies a conversation with other artworks throughout history, elaborates on ideas and communicates through evolution. It converses with society, critiquing our surroundings. I believe that the relationship we have with our surroundings is at the core of making art in a postmodern society.
Postmodernism is a pause in the history of art and exists to give us perspective on understanding that the “life=art” statement is currently evolving. I guess you could call me a Post-Neo-Post Fluxus Explorer; an artist surviving in the indeterminate postmodern landscape. The banality of changing my clothes in the morning is profound in its nature, corresponding to the act of making art. To sustain such a creative endeavor, you must be able to catalyze an idea, making sense out of “life=art”.
ARTIST STATEMENT PART II (for the works)
Herman Melville wrote—“that phrenologically the head of this Leviathan, in the creature's living intact state, is an entire delusion.”--Moby Dick
From ancient times in the fabrications of a god, to the unknown truths of beasts and monsters that walk among us, illumination and skepticism are always at the forefront. The etymological presentation of the term hoax comes from the word hocus –– meaning to conjure up, cheat, impose upon –– with heavy ties to the history of witchcraft, a form of worship shunned by the establishment, including the church and its communities. Hoaxes have been largely used as an excuse for great manipulations in history and have acted as a stand-in for the unknown or the mysterious. The world’s history holds close the idea of illuminating mysterious happenings and anchors to the unknown. Our minds elaborate on these mythologies, making believe, letting the imagination hold onto something true in the “untrue”. These types of illuminations can, and often are, filled with contradictions, a trick to the eye or something that sits on the periphery. In the same context, dark can be light, while the concrete can be filled with the ethereal. Stories have been told of men –– in the form of prophets –– walking on water, being reborn from death, materializing from thin air. In a contemporary culture, faced with it’s own mortality; the human race appears to be on the verge of extinction. Ice melts at a rapid pace, carbon counts are off the charts and yet we still hold fast to the destruction before our eyes. Willingly our participation can be chronicled in continuing to believe nothing is wrong.
Collectively, observations in the appearance of these monsters conclude that this cosmos is not to endure eternally, but that it likewise will have its end.
Our dialogical storytelling of the human/monster (wolf-man, vampire, zombie) is more tangible and believable to us than our ensuing death of another type of monster we have created. We choose to believe in a hoax, giving credit or meaning to our “otherness”, as though we need to arrive into our most difficult moments unprepared with complete ignorance of the situation. In the end the we choose not to believe, sometimes making play of absurd manifestations and relationships to the self, an illuminating and profound state of human thinking, in an uncertain present time, looking at the nostalgic patterning of the past.