Emerging Artists Series, graduate’s first solo exhibition

2/24/2010 - By: Natalie Savidge

Launching the Nevada Museum of Art’s Nevada Emerging Artists Series, Trophy Hunter, is artist and recent University graduate Bryan Christiansen. His first solo exhibition, and Nevada Museum of Art debut, opened Feb. 20 and will be on view until May 9, 2010.

“We are thrilled to launch the Nevada Emerging Artists Series with such an impressive young artist,” said Rachel Milon, director of communications and marketing at the Nevada Museum of Art. “As a recent university graduate, Bryan brings a fresh eye and new talent to the art world as a whole, and to the Museum, with his contemporary sculptures – sculptures that ask viewers to re-examine their accepted traditions and urban surroundings.

Christiansen creates life-sized contemporary sculptures from discarded household furniture, such as mattresses, bed springs, couches and recliners. Having experienced all the requisite activities of a rural childhood growing up in a small log cabin in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Christiansen’s hand-crafted works challenge the conventional notions of traditional rural life.

His works beg to be discovered and the Museum looks forward to having the next Nevada-based artist in the Series and bringing his work to the forefront of the regional arts scene in the state and across the nation,” Milon said.

Christiansen’s works stand in for the trophies, antler mounts, and pelts so often prized by hunters, and represent his own triumph of the present over the past and his strength to confront some of life’s most challenging contradictions.

“As his professor over the years I have had the privilege of watching him develop and cultivate his thinking along with his art-making skills,” said Tamara Scronce, associate professor in the Department of Art in the University’s School of the Arts. “Bryan consistently strives to push beyond his personal boundaries challenging preconceived ideas and expectations.

Christiansen ventures into forgotten urban alleyways and parking lots to search for discarded furniture, recalling the ritualized pursuit of stalking and hunting animals. Once he returns to the studio, he proceeds to “skin and gut” the furnishings, as though he were eviscerating a fresh kill. In acknowledgment of Native American traditions, however, he makes sure that nothing goes to waste, saving and bottling everything down to the last bit of sawdust and string.

“His earnestness and sense of humor are refreshing and charming and are ever present in his art work,” Scronce said. “Bryan finished his bachelor’s of fine arts degree with the full support of our faculty in 2009; he is one of those students we are sad to see go, but happy to watch as his professional art career unfolds. Bryan and his art work are fantastic and promise to have a bright, bright future.”

Christiansen’s sculptures recall the work of 1950’s assemblage artists Bruce Conner and Ed Kienholz, who used gritty discarded objects to probe such issues as the passage of time, death, and decay. Unlike the work of these artists, however, Christiansen’s reconstructions are exquisitely crafted, featuring exposed hand-stitching and floral fabrics that have more to do with making sense of life than they do with dwelling on death.

Christiansen was also part of the University’s Emerging Artist group exhibition at the Stremmel Gallery in the fall and, as a student, worked as a laboratory technician for the University’s sculpture department.

Bryan Christiansen: Trophy Hunter will be on view at the Nevada Museum of Art through May 9. The exhibition will include approximately 15 artworks and is curated by Ann M. Wolfe, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections. The Nevada Emerging Artists Series, a new ongoing exhibition program designed to support the work of select Nevada-based artists, is generously sponsored by The Satre Family Fund of the Community Foundation of Western Nevada.

For more about the exhibit, go to Nevada Art.


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