Chris Taylor is a land artist, graphic designer, and teacher based in the creative hub of Athens, Georgia. He is fascinated with both nests and roots, literal and otherwise.
Of his art he says, "I usually have to explain to adults what I'm doing…children always get it."
How did you start working in land art and arrive at your current style?
Four years ago I started doing land art as a means of getting my daughter to go outside more, which lead to work in our school system. I discovered how many kids in my area never get the chance to be in nature. As a kid, I had always played in the woods making stuff; land art gave me an excuse to legitimize what I was already doing. Currently, my work focuses on cycles, transitions, and edges: the moment at the top of the roller coaster where anything is possible.
How do you feel about the relationship of an artist to their city or surroundings?
Living in Athens, GA, has afforded me the chance to do what I do full time, I don't think there are many places where I could get away with that. Since I work outside so much, my surroundings are very important. Each piece reflects the area I choose to work in that day. Athens is so encouraging to both artists and creativity. I'm lucky to be here.
How do you choose your subjects?
My art is a direct reflection of the day and environment I'm in. I never go out with an idea. I walk, look around, and see what hits me. The very nature of land art is to use what's around you at any given time.
Who have been some of your biggest influences or your best teachers?
Andy Goldsworthy [a British land artist-Ed.] is the obvious choice as he's the most well known artist in this medium. However, I love being in Athens not only because it's full of artists, but patrons as well as so many children with amazing ideas and freedom to express themselves. I've got painter friends, tattoo artists, textile artists, musicians, silk painters, dancers, photographers, and so on. I think we all feed off each other.
Where do you go to draw inspiration ?
I go outside and listen. I watch kids play. I read. But I think the best source currently is oddly enough Pinterest. It's the most curated and best source to find artists that I'd never see otherwise. I love textile work and pottery both of which are well represented on Pinterest.
Are there any aspects of the Southern aesthetic that you embrace or ones you consciously avoid?
My Southern aesthetic was formed in the southern Appalachians, a place full of mystery, superstition, strong religious beliefs, and a resourcefulness unseen in many parts of the country. I use what I find in the area I'm working. The people can be warmhearted and very suspicious at the same time. I'm most interested in showing the natural beauty hiding just under a layer of pine straw and leaves. I avoid anything that hints at separatism. My art is public and open to any one who finds it.
Do you feel creatively satisfied?
Yes, very much. I'm working more and more with textiles and paint. I'm looking forward to the next year of work.
Tell me about a recent, current, or upcoming project or exhibition.
Currently, I'm working on a public installation at Sandy Creek Nature Center, a local park and education facility. It's called Hagg Gata and is comprised of circles made from limbs in the crooks of trees. I call them "gates" and they cause the viewer to pause and look at the forest for just a moment in a way they may not have before. I will also start teaching elementary age students at a public school and a STEAM academy in the fall.