Briefly describe the work you do.
I make photographic work that explores ideas about myths, legends and how the world works. Process-wise, that ranges from traditional, camera-based imagery to photograms (camera-less images) sans darkroom – about as low-tech as one can get. A bit of pre-planning and some lucky accidents go a long way. And then making it happen again.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
A lot of getting my hands dirty. Camping was always a big part of my experience when I was growing up. And in that environment I’ve always been a collector of things, staring at the ground looking for something, stuff – anything really – as a kid. I grew up in the city, so it was inevitable, that there was always something left behind, by someone else, whether dug up in the yard or found on the way while walking to school – objects, that in my mind had some level of importance, sense of history or interest to me. But being devoid of their original context, those objects become something else.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
The “studio”, for reasons both good and bad, has always been feast or famine for me. Minimally, I need to take breaks from what seems like long, sustained focus on anything. Being away from (or getting into) the studio has also been a function of purely of access, which goes without saying – can be a bit frustrating. That said, it has taught me a great deal about how to adapt and figure new strategies for making work that is relevant to me. I guess I am saying that studio is whatever you make it or need it to be, in my experience at least.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
Mostly teaching as well as the types of things that I do in my own practice, my whole approach, really. When I first started, I really had no idea what this was about. My whole concept of materials, and process, has been turned on its head. Additionally, the opportunity to work alongside other artists/friends to curate shows has been wonderful.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
Lately, it has been whenever time allows. It’s imperfect, but that’s how it needs be sometimes. That said, I am constantly revisiting ideas and thinking about these issues that I am interested in, so while the act of producing something finished and on to the next may span some time (and more than I like), all of the little bits and pieces really are in constant motion.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
Other than a cell phone or higher-end cameras to document some of my work, I haven’t picked up a camera for any other purpose in some time. That revelation was announced in class one day and some of my students looked at me as if I were from another planet!! That said, I am pretty eager to change directions in my work, and return to something lens-based – TBA…
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
Wanting to make and not just consume.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
Yes, music. When I figured there was no way my parents would tolerate a drum kit I went the route of guitar. Immediately after high school and into community college, and not having a clear sense of direction, I enrolled in a bunch of music courses – composition, performance, scoring, etc. That experience has been invaluable.
Christian Arrecis is an artist residing in Chicago, Illinois. Using found photographic and drawn imagery from books and periodicals, as well as camera-less photography, his work references legend, superstition, and mythology in an attempt to synthesize science and magic and the accidental and the serendipitous. He has exhibited in a number of shows including greymatter gallery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Spokane Falls Community College, Washington; James Madison University in Virginia; Washington-Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania, and most recently Peoria Art Guild, Peoria, Illinois. His work is in a handful of collections including Wright State University and Target Corporation.He is co-curator and founding member of the Exhibition Project. He received his MFA from Northern Illinois University and has taught photography at various institutions including a current appointment at Waubonsee Community College.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.