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June, 2015

Featured Artist

Chris Hewitt

Art is problem solving for me. I formulate a question and then explore ways of solving it. I enjoy the process of constructing and deconstructing things, cutting and carving wood, assembling dissimilar objects to make something new. Most of the materials I work with are found or reclaimed. Buying materials has a stifling effect on my creative process.

Chris will be involved in projects at Port Washington High school from September - May.
Visit Chris's website at www.hedgerowfarm-fredonia.com


 

A Conversation with Chris Hewitt

by Don Niederfrank

Chris and I met on a beautiful spring morning at his home in Environs of Fredonia. After admiring the day and setting, we sat down at an old oak kitchen table with cups of good coffee.

When did you begin to do art? When did you begin to do it intentionally?
I realized I was good at problem solving at some point during my time at UMW. The college level art classes were challenging and interesting and the other students – the good ones – were fun to be with. It was a great community. This is when I started taking art seriously.

What media do you work in?
I lean more towards 3 dimensional mediums like wood, metal, clay, plaster, stone.  

How do you decide what media to use?
Whatever needs to happen determines the media. I am planning on working with Kelly Alexander on some prints later this summer. Right now I'm doing a lot of metal work, I'm working with Glander Metal in Saukville. This is my first experience having someone else fabricate things for me and I like it! I had them make a number of sillouettes of male and female Bachman's warblers... (Chris went on to explain what how he planned on using them, but I was too intrigued to take notes!)

Do you see the finished product before you begin?

Never. If I see the end, if I see where I'm going too clearly, I don't want to do it. It's finished because for me art is a problem to be solved. If it's already solved it's done. This way of working is difficult because it's very impractical.

Have you ever thought about stopping doing art?
All the time. Because its hard work and it requires "good morning energy" and time. And without a community to talk to it's not a lot of fun. That's why this residency program have been so wonderful. It has allowed me to connect with others and talk about stuff like this.  

How much time do you spend doing art?
It depends. I should spend more, but there are so many other things that need to get done. It's frustrating.

Who or what influences your art?
I don't know. I do know that I'm rarely inspired by completed artwork. With art, I usually know how it happens because I see the technique. Art looses a lot of impact when this is visible. What get's me going are found objects, objects taken out of context, raw materials, antiques. And of course, music. All kinds. Almost.

What do you do when you're not doing art?
My creativity transfers into other things—making food, baking, antiquing, finding the right rock... I could stop “making art” and still feel fulfilled doing any number of things. That being said, the process of "making art", when all things are going well, gives an amazing high unlike anything else.   

What do you think most people don't know about doing art? 
Art isn't precious, or sacred,  or transformative. It can be all of those things to the viewer. But as an artist, art is simply a problem and the artist needs to be objective and ruthless and do whatever it takes to complete his or her idea.  The connection the viewer makes with the art is completely out of the artist hands. We can manipulate only so much.  Sometimes they get it sometimes they don't.

If you weren't an artist, what would you like to be?
I don't make much money with art so I have always been exploring options with my day jobs. farming, teaching, clock repair, even life guarding at the YMCA. Right now I'm a baker at the Daily Baking Company and I am loving that! It's challenging and creative… all the things I look for.  Stop in and check out the excellent breads!

 

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