Artist Statement and Bio


Chris’s path has consistently gravitated towards and found redemption in “making,” whether in Architecture School at Tulane where his attraction for physical form was explored in the sanctioned realm of cardboard models, or in the sun drenched playground for architects in the Arizona desert known as Arcosanti, a place where the medium of silt, clay and concrete are the primary means of expression.  Playing in the dirt, he seemed to find his medium of choice and let his activities range from the scale of ceramic houses as demonstrated by Nader Khalili at CalEarth in southern California to the hand held clay creations afforded and indulged upon at Paolo Soleri’s ceramic studio at the edge of the Sonoran. He later found a nurturing environment for these tendencies while earning his MFA at RISD and achieved breakthroughs working with clay and earthen mixtures, leading to his current body of work.  He now resides in Roanoke, Virginia, nestled within the phenomenal beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Artist Statement

A subtle architectonic logic pervades my artwork: a kind of “organic tectonic.”  I define this aesthetic as a construction involving a language of forms and patterns associated with the natural world.  Inspired by the life sciences, including the fossilized record and the amazing worlds opened up by electron microscopy, I cultivate a vision where botanical and geological forms merge into an organic/geometric matrix.  Ultimately, the work is my humble attempt to make manifest underlying structures of the physical universe.  

      “Earth forming,” my novel process-of-making is a technique which involves carving intricate one-off molds out of an earthen mix of sand and clay. These fragile earthen “form works” last only long enough to cast my clay vessels and tiles.  Over a period of a week, the sand mold dries and begins to dissolve, allowing the clay piece to be excavated and eventually fired to around 2000 degrees F.  The technique is uniquely adapted to forming rich bas-relief surfaces, a sort of "dimensional drawing" technique that combines attributes of both image making and sculpture.

The lineage of my meticulously carved ceramic relief tiles traces back to the architectural terra cotta tradition of organically inspired facades. Suitable for both indoor and outdoor installations, the tiles come alive in strong light, creating a mesmerizing play of shadow. My skills as an artist and an architect allow me to seamlessly integrate my artistic vision with the unique needs of a specific space and thus allows me to enthusiastically explore commission projects. To this end, I have developed rendering techniques that allow me to produce studies as detailed photorealistic images that allow others to have a clear understanding of what the artwork will eventually become. 

C.Gryder Blog

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  • Jun 18, 2013
  • Jun 11, 2013