Chris Powell, an artist living and working in Fort Worth, Texas, makes art like one makes footprints. It is part of his being, the imprint he leaves on the world. With a MFA in ceramics from Bradley University, Powell has taught ceramics, sculpture and design at TCU since 1989. Working in stone, clay and other traditional as well as non-tradition materials Powell’s work explores the abstract shapes of plants, animals and natural phenomena, achieving a subtle balance between the figurative and non-figurative that evokes the early modernists. Recognized for his command of materials and form, Powell has had numerous public and private commissions for outdoor sculpture, including the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. In 1992 his work was included in Metal and Stone: Six Young Sculptors at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
Powell has collaborated with Japanese artist, Takaya Fujii, exchanging work between Kyoto and Fort Worth. For the artists’ third exchange in 2009, Takaya sent works made of sugar and salt to Texas for which Powell found and made structures to support them, showing their collaboration of objects and installation at Powell’s Wiesenberger Studio. While known for exquisite pieces made for the hand and works scaled to the body, in 2011 Powell quite literally filled TCU’s Moudy Gallery with Elizabeth a 6 foot plaster rabbit fashioned after a 2 ½ x 1” Sung Dynasty porcelain figurine. Also in 2011, he was included in Modern Ruin: Down and Dirty. This summer Powell was part of another exchange between Texas and Japan as students and art faculty from TCU and Hiroshima University traveled to each location, made and exhibited work in two exhibitions, Sons and Daughters of the Sun and Star at Fort Worth Contemporary Arts and at a converted space in Hiroshima, Japan. Currently Powell’s work is featured in a solo exhibition through September 26 at Forum Gallery of Brookhaven College School of the Arts in Dallas.
Perception of an object costs
Precise the Object’s loss—
Perception in itself a Gain
Replying to its price—
The Object Absolute—is nought—
Perception sets it fair
And then upbraids a Perfectness
That situates so far—
where is the power appreciates the significance and inevitability of absurdity in art as in life. Such can be found in twin, 2006-2011 by Chris Powell. A number of Powell’s works pair, or “twin,” made and found objects – setting up conversations. In this case it is two recovered chairs placed back to back and joined with the application of plaster. Naturally, twin brings to mind the metaphor of a chair as a body, suggesting a narrative of two becoming one or one splitting in to two and so on. Nevertheless, while an untold story beckons, there is also an undeniable visceral response to the rectitude of the two chairs back-to-back, compressing the space between them, plastered and joined into a complete form satisfying to the eye and body. Beautiful and absurd, it creates a tug-o-war between seeing and accepting. The continuous but divided form of twin, with its pseudo-function and implications, forcibly demands consideration despite the sculptures neutral palette and unpretentious deportment – a quiet but absolute power.