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Local Artists Live: Chris Greenman
October 24, 2020; 10:00 AM–10:30 AM CDT
This Saturday, October 24, Chris Greenman will take over the MMFA’s Instagram account from 10 to 10:30 AM for our next installment of Local Artists Live. Chris received his Bachelor of Arts in Art History as well as his Masters of Education and Ph.D. in Art Education from Penn State University. Currently a professor in the Art Department at Alabama State University, he teaches courses in art education, art theory, art appreciation, ceramics, and contemporary art.
Growing up in the Northeast “with lots of snow,” Chris is happy to live in the South, where temperatures rarely drop below freezing. A ceramicist who has studied Japanese traditions of the artform with great passion, Chris especially appreciates (even more than the warm weather) his Montgomery residency’s proximity to working with anagama kilns—all are a quick drive up to the University of Montevallo, down to Fairhope, or over to Hambridge, Georgia.
Revered for its vast potential in experimentation and combination of aesthetics with utilitarianism, working in clay offers opportunities not always found through other media. Chris reflects on the potential ambiguity of clay’s outcomes while simultaneously exemplifies how experience plays into such artistry: “Vision is never complete. All works are passages.”
When asked about his upbringing and any creative ventures as a child, Chris again turns to recalled experiences. His grandfather collected and repaired antiques and was a photographer. When his family would visit at holidays, he and his brother “played on the oriental antique rugs [and] looked through 1950’s photography magazines and Life magazine.” These experiences instilled in Chris an interest in art history, photography, and sculpture, linking directly to his explorations as an artist and career as an art educator.
Be sure to tune in for this opportunity to learn more about Chris, his experiences as an artist, and the beauty of working in clay.
This program is part of the series:
Meet the Artist
What excites you most about the growth of Montgomery’s art scene?
We have a Renaissance with new murals, various active art groups, and a new excitement for the arts here.
Who are some artists or what are some works of art in the MMFA’s collection that inspire you?
The Hopper painting is amazing! But then there are the Jun Kaneko dangos that inspire. Georgia O’Keeffe; Charlie Lucas’ horses.
Do you have an all-time favorite work of art, and have you seen it in person? If you have, how did you feel in that moment?
For many years my wife and I would go to Boston every year as my parents were living in Southern New Hampshire. So, we would go to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (I have lots of photos from my times there); The Institute of Contemporary Art; The Krakow Gallery; and of course the Pucker Gallery, which represents the estate of Brother Thomas Bezanson and Ken Matsuzaki and Phil Rogers and others. We also made it to The Fogg Museum in Cambridge; The Fuller Craft Museum; Manchester Art Museum; Mass Moca- the Sol le Witt show is amazing!
Tell us about your most preferred place to be on Earth. What role, if any, has the energy of that place helped shape you as an artist?
Standing in front of the kiln. Sitting still at Ryoanji, in Kyoto. Ryoanji is one of the holiest places on Earth; it is a Zen rock garden that has fifteen stones that are arranged so that it is not possible to see all stones from a single vantage point. It is said that the garden functions as a Zen Koan.
What drives your creativity?
Clay and fire.
What is your preferred medium?
Do you listen to any particular music when you create?
I prefer to have Pandora running with Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Hot Tuna, Steve Earle, Allman Brothers, Eddie Vedder, Peter Rowan, The Low Anthem, Ratdog, Townes Van Zandt, and with any luck the algorithms touch on many tangents.
What advice would you give to beginning artists?
Don’t stop! Make things; live with them. Question. Always look to see! (Seeing is not the same as looking!)