October - November, 2020
Boundaries shape our experience of the modern world in fundamental ways. Politically, socially, and environmentally, as our populations grow, we are constantly navigating pressures that force us as a species to redefine humanity’s place on this planet in a way that is ethical and humane for all life. The conditions that define current contemporary life, scarcity of resources, market volatility, war, violations of human rights, abuses of power, and environmental degradation, all demonstrate the power that boundaries have in shaping experience. The use of animals in art presents us with an effective counterpoint to human-centered narratives because of the way animals transcend boundaries between nature and culture. This exhibition, featuring artists Anne Bujold, Rachel Deny, Carolyn Hopkins, Bill Rutherford, and Christopher St. John, showcases a collection of animal-themed work that offers distinct and timely perspectives on the idea of boundaries.
Christopher st. john
For this exhibition I created 12 charcoal drawings in response to the masks of Bill Rutherford. Bill is my friend, and it has been an honor to know this flinty and deeply sensitive soul in the two years I have lived in Eugene, Oregon. For whatever reason, there are places in Bill’s creative landscape and psyche that resonate and overlap within my own, and I recognize Bill as a teacher and guide in my life.
My original intention for the work in this exhibition was to deepen my commitment and arguments to the ecological concerns that have been the focus of my work for three years now. I had wanted to explore that boundary place between the human-animal and the natural world, in clay and paint, and in the things that brought me joy as an artist. In asking Bill to participate in this exhibition with me, I felt he could address that anima/animus relationship through his masks far more effectively, and I could let the animals speak alone in my work.
In that boundary line between light and dark, we all make choices that influence the currents that move our lives. That river of life contains dark and cold channels. As a species, we have made weapons that can turn the only known habitable world into a hellish waste of glass and sand. This is the boundary line on which I have created my masks. Witnesses to darkness.
I graduated with an MFA in Sculpture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute. My work questions the traditional cultural roles of the feminine and masculine as well as the tamed and untamed and creates outposts from which to re-examine a recognizable terrain. I have collaborated with Mark Dion and Spurse, and have been an Artist in Residence at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC, the Vermont Studio Center, Caldera, Brush Creek, Mildred’s Lane, and Leland Ironworks. My work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. I live and work in Lyle, Washington on a 20-acre ranch and studio.
Metalsmithing & Blacksmithing
I combine metalsmithing and blacksmithing techniques with alternative materials such as felt, ribbon, and plastics. In my sculptures, animals are agents examining the spaces between definitions, that fertile ground where new forms emerge.
I am currently the Artist-In-Residence for the Metals Department at the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, TN. I received my MFA from the Craft and Material Studies Department at Virginia Commonwealth University (2018) and BFA from Oregon College of Art and Craft (2008).
I was previously based in Portland, Oregon operating Riveted Rabbit Studio, a custom metal fabrication business.
My work is my contact with the world outside of the context of my insular life. I have sculpted and drawn for as long as I can remember, but I had no role models, no mentors for fine art. Portland, Oregon, where I was born and raised, was a very segregated, place. I am African American, raised by political activists, who fought the freedom wars, all of their lives. Expressive fine art was and is always living in my mind.
My focus is still outside the perfect view, elicited perhaps by being self-taught and viewing the work through cultural eyes.
Working in wood affords peace and spiritual depth. My work in wire, plaster, and found objects allows expansion of expression with materials and styles. Drawing and painting affords me the opportunity to document my worlds.
My work has been represented by numerous galleries in Oregon and California.