Christopher Lavery (Assistant Professor of Art, Sculpture, Murray State University, KY)
MFA University of Colorado at Boulder
BA State University of New York at Fredonia
Christopher M. Lavery has exhibited his work nationally in San Francisco, Nebraska, Maine, Kentucky, New York, Massachusetts, Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, Denver Art Museum, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as internationally in Mexico, Peru, Palestine, Israel, France, Columbia and the Czech Republic. 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. Most recently, Christopher 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.
Christopher is a practitioner of a profession that is able to ask questions as a basis for its objective reality and creates works that reflect his personal questionings/observations of the world. He often researches his work by visiting the site or place that the artwork will be exhibited and is informed by the nature of a space—often influenced by the specific characteristics of the site, place and cultural connections. He is an artist who puts into his practice visual art as a philosophical way of living, stating that an “Art practice in the postmodern era is questionable and undeniably dysfunctional due to the nature of equal sensibilities developed towards undefined or lost humanitarianism.” He has developed a dialogue in the art world, both in the public realm and the insular art culture, through sculpture, performance, video, sound and installation.
As a teacher, Christopher not only teaches traditional methods in sculptural making, but also is engaging in a contemporary teaching dialogue that encompasses new technologies. He has developed sculpture programs that offer students access to making work with sound, robotics, video, light and several other digital processes-such as 3D modeling, animation and rapid prototyping. At Murray State University, Christopher is restructuring a 30-year-old facility and sculpture program to reflect the current developments in contemporary sculpture.
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. I am not an occasional artist, but a practitioner of a profession that asks 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, learning new ideas; words I speak and write with. In understanding of “word” or “language” exists a complexity of ideas translated through interpretation. We speak; others translate based on how we speak, gesture or carry ourselves through a conversation. Sometimes our identities speak for us, before we say a word; written language can be formulated. Dictionaries are used to interpret words 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 and literal. Beauty can be found in ugliness; true. But it also means that “pretty” is used to accentuate how “ugly” is defined. It’s confusing but 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, trained in a postmodern, academic sensibility, 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. Art to me is a conversation between the viewer and the artwork, at the same time it embodies a conversation with other artworks throughout history, elaborates on ideas and communicates through evolution, conversing with society, critiquing our surroundings.
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”.
“Herman Mellville 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.
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.
This work is an attempt to make sense of a failing planet and failing human sentiment.