Visiting Artist

I missed the last lecture I was going to attend because of an unexpected time change, so I just checked out a visiting artist DVD from the VRC and wrote my paper on that.

Visiting Artist Paper: Chris Sauter

Chris Sauter is a contemporary artist that is inspired by components of the human experience such as such as sexuality and human biology and their relationships to industry, agriculture, geology, and even astronomy.  I found his blending of the two very interesting.  I also thought that his use of not only biological subject matter, but also the use of biological materials themselves, was very original.  Usually I would find an artist that uses sperm as a medium and the female reproductive system as a common subject to be trite, or just grasping for attention and shock value, but the way that Sauter uses it surprised me in that I saw it as clever, creative, and even beautiful.

I found especially interesting his pieces he showed that were made from found objects on the side of the road in his home state of Texas.  He turns these objects, or parts of the objects, into the shape of the female reproductive system.  It is an interesting way to look at what we throw away, and the link between our bodies and the material things we own.  Sauter uses the female reproductive system a lot in his work, and this is especially interesting to me since he is a man.  A lot of female artists represent it in their art, but Sauter is the first male artist I have seen that uses the shape in common place ways on everyday objects that people .  He also uses it a lot in his pieces that look very western, in a collection he calls “Rodeo.”  He puts the female reproductive shape into things like western motif carved leather, or makes large wooden sculptures of it, and then places the pieces in classic “americana” type scenes and situations.  The effect is very interesting and unexpected, and I found it strange that when I first saw the female reproductive shape I thought that it was actually the image of a long horn skull, which would make more sense traditionally in the setting.  I really liked this idea of kind of a “hidden” image, and when you start to see what the shapes really are the meaning and the feeling of the pieces drastically change.

One of the pieces that caught my attention during the talk was “Soiled Bed Sheets,” in which Sauter uses semen on a white sheet under black light to recreate the galaxy.  I am sure many people were disgusted, which I understand, but I think once you stop and think about the piece beyond the fact that it is made out of bodily fluids, it becomes very interesting.  The millions of tiny cells on the sheet represent the millions of stars that make up the galaxy, and how small each of those cells is to us can be related to how small we are in the context of the entire galaxy.  Each person starts from one of those tiny cells, and every star started from tiny fragments as well.  I really love the way that Sauter ties those things together and makes such a seemingly complex thing so simple and beautiful.

Sauter makes people examine their universal connection, biologically if not psychologically, through his art.  His use of subject and medium are jarring, but successful I think in that they really catch peoples attention and make them react, whether it is with disgust or fascination.  His lecture focused more on his process, but his discussion of his intention behind his work is what really interested me.

One Response

  1. You do a good job of explaining his ideas, but I feel you could delve into a description of a piece or two a bit more. Some minor grammatical errors and oddly worded sentences made the paper less fluid when reading, but overall I didn’t feel I was dredging myself through to the end. Sauter sounds like an interesting artist and I will have to look into him.

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