Featured artist Charis Congail
Mr. Fixit: Wax, concrete, marbles, 5' to beginning 4' at the end
I’ve been asked to pen a few notes to introduce myself to the WP&S/WAAM community as the new Northeast Chapter Chair. Before I begin rambling about myself, I’d like to thank our outgoing Chair, Steve Ballard, for his many years of dedicated service to the organization. Steve has set an example of friendly leadership and encouragement, and I have him to blame for my involvement in WP&S. Thank you, Steve.
I wondered at the most appropriate way to approach this introductory task, and have decided that I should begin by describing for you an incident at a recent exhibit involving one of my works, entitled Mr. Fixit. Mr. Fixit was a three part sculptural piece consisting of bald, hollow wax heads which were loaded with marbles. Sitting atop concrete pedestals, the heads loomed ominously near a heat/light source dangling from above. As predicted, the wax slowly melted, revealing the heads’ contents submerged in pools of shiny, liquid wax. The visual was both beautiful and disturbing.
During a recent members’ meeting at the ArtSpace Collective Gallery, where the exhibit was being held, one of the heads decided to experience a complete meltdown. Wax poured haphazardly onto the floor and nearby innocent bystanders, marbles fell violently and noisily in random gunshot-like patterns onto the wooden platform below. Each barrage seemed to interrupt or punctuate whatever important point was being made at the time, causing a number of people in the room great irritation, and leading me to shed uncontrollable tears of joy.
To me, the timing could not have been more perfect. Taking ourselves very seriously, we had neglected our duty to playfulness and joyful creativity. Mr. Fixit seemed to sense that we were going astray, lost in the constricts and rigidity of carefully constructed rules and regulations, wandering a little too far from our original purpose. Mr. Fixit seemed to know just the right moments to lose his marbles. I was very proud that day: My own work reminded me of why I became an artist in the first place.
In the past few years, I have been focusing my attention on trying to make a living doing portraiture. After graduating with degrees in fine art and comparative religious studies, I needed to make use of the education that I had spent so much time and money pursuing. As time went on, I noticed that I was becoming less and less enthused about spending time in my studio. While my portraiture continued to improve, my spirit was sinking. I realized that I was not being true to my artist self, and decided to make a change toward work that brings me joy – with very little prospect of ever bringing me an income.
To make a long story shorter, I work in a variety of mediums, ranging from graphite to pastel and oils, to plaster and bronze. However, the work I enjoy creating the most is born of found objects, or non-traditional materials falling together in assemblage. These pieces tend towards kinetics or process-oriented constructs, which can sometimes result in unpredictable audience participation, and hopefully will provoke thoughtful response and playfulness.
It is with this sense of playfulness and experimentation that I accepted the role of Northeast Chapter Chair. My intentions include actively seeking new upstart members who don’t mind pushing the envelope and exploring new frontiers. I believe in injecting a dose of fearlessness into the ranks, inspiring us all toward a future of promise and vitality.
Hopefully, we won’t have to resort to hot, melting wax to remind us of our purpose for being here in the first place.
Thanks for having me,