Tuesday, April 8, 2008

xenovision ~ Christopher M. Gaston

"Some artists paint. Some work in metal or clay or whatever. xenovision, just won't fit into any of those slots. "I", he says, "am here to expand, explore, and create." For him that means, simply, anything and everything to do with art and creativity." This is from the intro on Christopher M Gaston's, also known as xenovision's website. I became online friends with him through the social network "Tribe" and have always been intrigued by his work, not only in ceramics but in all that he does. So when I decided to ask if he would be interested in an interview, and he said yes I was very excited! Given that he is a man of many interests his ceramic work is kept to distinct sessions at various times of the year, then he leaves it behind and moves on to other work, other mediums. His ceramic art is done in series with names like "Atomic Spirits" and "Ceramics from the Abyss". In reviewing his website while preparing for this interview I have grown to admire the man, the artist even more. His creativity is at a place I would like mine to be one day.
Why clay? One word- Durability, clay seems to last a long long time. So, I like to imagine where each of my ceramic pieces will be in 100 years, a 1,000 and yeah, and even 10,000+ years into the future. This is one of the reasons that I choose clay and that I sign and date each piece to the day it is finished being formed before the bisque. If you take a look at the collections of museums you will see that most of the oldest man made artifacts they have in their possession are of clay & glass. In the past, many of the metal pieces have been melted down for war or for other uses like coins and such, so their original art forms have been destroyed and lost to the value or need of the material. Even stone has been reformed or used for reconstructing something else. But with clay, you can make your mark and your own stone to project your art & heart into the future for others to see and maybe possibly enjoy.
Another reason why clay is that I enjoy mixing the elements, earth, water, fire, and the Human Spirit, bringing them to together to dance the form, then baking the earth to high temperatures up into the white light God. Wow, that`s hot! Fire, Earth and Water is part of our human form and added to this the art of our Human Spirit, this is pure creativity.
What gets you in the mood? Being away from clay, not having touched it for a period of time, like 2 or 3 months at the most, then I will start to get a feeling and want to play with it again. Starting a new clay session for me is an adventure where I dive deep inside, losing sense of time and space, then coming out of it having the excitement of not knowing what will come out from my kilns. I do at the most 3 clay sessions a year.
Do you listen to music when you work? First, of all what I do is not work but play, so when I am playing with clay, I will have a large variety of music, talk, or silence depending on the mood I am in. The talk will be NPR, BBC, or old time radio shows, I`ll even have live NASA TV mixed over the music with the visuals playing on the monitor. My music will be like, mornings of Classical, Baroque, acoustic stuff, moving into the afternoons it`s Jazz, Reggae, Japanese Enka or Miyo and then into early evenings through late nights the party begins playing House, Rap, D&B, Techno/Trance and then a chill down of Ambient. During these Sessions I will be up for 2 or 3 days of exploration. What motivates your work? Like I said, "I don`t work", so it is a way of life for me and I am very fortunate to be gifted and to have a good deal of people around me who enjoy seeing my gifts and wish that what I create will support me and my art enough to allow me to create even more. As a child, I was always told that I am talented in so many things, but I was not doing what I do for the praise, I was doing it for the fun of it and the step back and look at what I made and ask myself, "did I make that" and then laugh!
I have done and still do a wide variety of creativity through my art and what I have found out is that, if I am creating something just to get that money, afterwards I`ll get a bad taste in my mouth and a sick feeling inside, really sick and I want to buy it back and destroy it. But, if I do create something I can feel that I am using my gifts and believe in what I am doing is true and real to me, then that is my true purpose here and this motivates me to do more. So, I guess the answer would be- being thankful and respectful for the gifts which I have been given. Being real to myself and not selling out because I needed some more of that paper.
Who are your favorite artists and why? I am, because there is so much to learn, explore, and create from within myself... What`s that song as a child, "The most important person in the whole wide world is you and you hardly even know you". I'm still just getting started to know the creativity within myself and of my art.
What’s your favorite cuss word? Fa-KU!
What is your favorite pleasure? The feeling of being alive and creating something now! What would you say to someone just getting started in ceramics who asks you for advice? At my exhibitions I have been asked by many Japanese who are doing ceramics as a hobby and also by students studying ceramics or have just gone independent, which means that they have just set up their studio. I ask the independents, "are you OK?", but really, I would suggest that they experiment and enjoy themselves during their time with clay. Take risks and challenge yourself to make your mark, get fired up and get it fired and show yourself what you can do, then show me & the world if you want. What is your feeling on the artist as activist, Artivism? and the “handmade” movement? Never thought about it, but I guess, an Art`s section with bigger color photos, you know just like the have for the sports section in the newspapers and the same amount of time on the arts just like sports have on the TV news and programs. You mention that your ceramics is done in “sessions” do you stop working with clay in between sessions? Or does it all flow together, ceramics, graphics, photography etc? I am really lucky in that, I have many toys in my play box to choose to play with and that, I can rotate or cycle through them during the period of a year. But to answer your Q. Yes, I do stop clay after a 1 to 2 month session of clay time, then the exhibition phase begins and I will be at my exhibition everyday to meet, greet and talk with every person that has taken the time to come and see my show and thank them. I will not go back into my studio to touch clay for 2 or 3 months. But, while I`m in my studio, yes, I can and do multi-tasking so, I photograph and even video tape myself in my studio while I`m creating, this is done most intensely during peek of my session. Self documentation has always been very important to me. You live in a beautiful setting, how much is your work dependent on it? Or could you create the same in a congested urban setting? I could never create the same anywhere I live, but I could and have created in the city. Living in the country side of Japan, just a skip away from Tokyo, I have more output then input. What I mean is, I have more time for my creativity and more money to invest back into that creativity be it ceramics or what ever I'm into. When I was living in Shibuya, Tokyo, I was exploring a different form of my creativity putting together the magazine, "zavtone" and VJ-ing at night in clubs, but I always found myself wanting to return to my country house and studio to smell the Earth and to just to play with clay or what. When the Tokyo adventure started to feel like work, I came back to my country place. At that time in Tokyo, 1 months rent of my apartment in Shibuya, not including parking, I could live for 3 years renting out at my country palace. So by living in the country, I can invest more in into creating my art.
Be sure to go to his website and take a look. Lots of images to see!

Thank you xenovision!


xenovision said...

Chris, I thank you for all your time and effort in connecting the ceramic dots and also for inviting me to share. The ceramic piece, "Venus of Dolní Věstonice" is dated to 29,000–25,000 BC. This is the durability of clay.

Chris McCormick said...

Thank you xenovision! You are an inspiration