I've always believed in the inherent spirits in objects, books, vessels, fabrics and textiles. My parents had an antiques business when I was little and I began doing ritual-style installations with objects at an early age. That is essentially what I still do...scour local and far-flung destinations in search of the materials to manifest my visual narratives (paintings, drawings, collages, assemblages, sculptures, and installations). My friend Merrilee says I'm an 'ethnographic surrealist' and I think that's an apt description.
live in New Orleans. I also write and make films.
Recent exhibitions of my visual art include: Haiti, Cambodia, and Washington DC. I've taught and worked with young artists at Fosaj Arts (Jacmel, Haiti), The Happy School (Phnom Penh, Cambodia) and at the Corcoran School of Art and Design.
Collectors include Alexander Payne, Michael Stipe, Julianne Moore, Patti Smith, Richard Simmons and Bon Iver.
Chris Lawson is a New Orleans artist living and working in the Bywater neighborhood.
Questions & Answers
Describe your art in three words.
Funny. Ethnographic. Mysterious.
Describe yourself in one word.
What do you love the most about creating art in New Orleans? What particular part of your immediate environment, or in your neighborhood, specificallyinfluences your work?
The walks I take. The people and things I see. But also on my walks I see how things converge through urban, multicultural mash-ups. My neighborhood -St. Roch- is a living collage of lives complete with necessary sadness and unexpected joys and enduring people and fantastic creatures and wild color and charged atmospheres. My friend, the writer Maurice Ruffin, says New Orleans is in a constant state of re-arranging itself. For a mixed-media artist that's kind of endlessly inspiring.
Describe your creative process. Are there any rituals or rites of passage you exercise before you begin a new piece?
I spend a lot of time gathering materials, objects and ideas. It's a personal, ritualized activity, and slowly through a process of alchemy and intuition and familiarity, specific narratives begin to emerge.
Where do you draw inspiration?
Cinema and literature…especially books; classic and contemporary poetry. But also a myriad of other places and activities including camping, visiting rivers, oceans and visiting old places, places with palpable memories.
Who are your artistic influences, or gurus?
Yves Tanguy, Christian Boltanski, Charles Adams , Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Joseph Beuys, Meret Oppenheim, Daniel Day Lewis, William Burroughs and Agnes Moorehead.
In New Orleans, art and music go hand in hand. What type of music, band or song lyric best describes your work?
“I Put a Spell on You” the Screamin' Jay Hawkins version.
Where can we find you when you are not creating art?
Writing, taking road trips, exploring the countryside with friends and family. Also, spending quality time with my dog, Ren, who looks like the Flying Nun, Sister Bertrill.
What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?
Night-time...it's when I'm most creative.
What is something people don’t know about you? A fun fact.
I am a really good cook. I experiment and create fusion dishes that meld traditional, southern approaches to food with Indian and African
influences. My approach to cooking is similar to my approach to art.
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Where You Can Find My Work
All works listed online are available to be viewed at Where Y’Art Gallery by appointment.
Amanda Sibley Gallery