Christopher Paul Dean
When did you get your start in art?
From a young age, creative processes were introduced to me. Coming from a family with little money, the act of making was always used as a device to keep me busy. From the age of 2 to 21 I had always drawn, painted, and built things, but I never really focused on art with rigor until I was 21. At that age, after being removed from school at 15 years of age, and working in warehouses etc. I was ready to begin study again. I applied for an Art and Design course using the portfolio my grandmother had helped me put together, 12 years later and I’ve just completed my Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Sculpture.
Where do you draw artistic inspiration?
Working in the studio with my wife keeps me inspired. When we are busy making, thinking, and creating, there is always positive energy to keep both of us nourished. I think, though, that the important part of inspiration is being able to process the inspiration in the best way possible. For that I remain open minded to the potential of the world around me, and importantly, I trust that art will direct me in the appropriate direction. Sometimes we work hard and nothing feels like we are making progress, at that point we have to focus on the fact that even those things we may consider to be failures, have many important and positive elements that can be extracted and utilized to inspire and move us forward.
On notable projects:
I was recently commissioned to install some work as part of the SCAD Atlanta (Peachtree building) renovation. It was an interesting process because I was working with an interior designer. The work I installed was a mural, which is the first I have done, and it was on a floor in which several other objects of mine are present. That commission allowed me to understand the logistics involved with creating work that was so site-specific. The interior designer had an idea in her mind, and I had mine, but ultimately we reached a place where both ideas came together to create a really fun space for students to both walk through, and relax.
You recently had a gallery showing, FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER. What was the inspiration behind this collection?
Each piece of art I created for my show, FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER, reflects a keen interest and belief I have in the potency art has to be a device I can utilize to distort, clarify, deconstruct, reconstruct and expand perception and logic. The results of these interests, one hopes, is a body of work that has becomes a platform for a critical re-evaluation of past, current, and future interactions with familiar objects, and the varying contexts in which we experience the familiar
What do you hope viewers of the collection take from the pieces?
It was absolutely imperative that I provided the viewer with a body of work that explored the limits of not just art, but also of the perception they have of art and where it exists. I enjoy creating work that has this tension, it’s not agitated at all, but there is this internal tension that is derived from the work slipping between two modes of existence; one being that of the personal narrative we develop with objects through past experiences, and then the distortion and need for a new form of interaction plus understanding when the familiar object is now under the framework of art. It is my hope that, when viewing my work, the spectator is encouraged to consider their body not just in relation to how they perceive the object at this time, but also how they engage with the world around them. It's a tall order, but I feel my work assist in providing people with alternative way of experiencing themselves experiencing.
What are some challenges you have faced as an artist?
Personal challenges usually come from my mental state. This can be up and down and is something I’ve really tried to understand over the last few years. Anxiety seems to be present in many peoples’ lives, and I am not exempt from this. There is also a long line of depression in my family. With all of this, I make sure to pay close attention to my mental wellbeing. I utilize art, and the varying process associated with making it, to keep me in a stable place. It’s never easy, but I’ve found a way of enjoying the ‘ride’ as best I can.
Who’s your favorite artist?
At present my favorite artist is Madlib. He is not considered a Fine Artist, because he isn’t. But musically speaking he is an incredible artist. Not just because of the catalogue he has produced, but because of the dedication it takes to create said catalogue. In my opinion, he is the perfect example of what happens when a creative individual is 100% committed to what they do, and intent on pushing the boundaries of their particular genre.
On upcoming projects:
Having just installed, and de-installed, my solo show for my MFA, I am now beginning to make new work that is in response to all I discovered during the process. I wouldn’t like to give too much away at this point.