Santa Fe, NM
This story was featured in the June 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art June 2013 print issue, or get the Southwest Art June 2013 digital download now…Or better yet, just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
Less than a decade ago, Colorado artist Christopher Owen Nelson had a “breakdown” that dramatically changed the course of his life. While working on a construction job site where they were framing a house, Nelson suddenly walked away, sat down on the side of the property that looked over the mountains, and started to cry. “I looked down at my hands and they were so worked and bloody,” Nelson says. “And I thought, ‘What am I doing? I’m an artist!’” From that moment on, he says, “Nothing else mattered anymore.”
Nelson soon began showing and selling his work, quickly gaining recognition for his unique creations made of carved and painted acrylic. This month, the artist presents new works in a solo show at Waxlander Gallery. “His work is just stunning,” says the gallery’s Bonnie French, adding, “He’s something of a prodigy, because he’s so talented and so young.” Indeed, French is not alone in recognizing Nelson as a talented young artist—he first appeared in the pages of Southwest Art in our annual “21 Under 31” feature back in 2008.
The show runs June 4 through June 17, with an artist’s reception on Friday, June 7, from 5 to 7 p.m. The title of the show, Absorb and Connect, speaks to the artist’s deep connections to nature. “I spend a lot of time outside—immersing myself, looking around, and really absorbing what I see,” Nelson says. These periods of immersion in the outdoors are the inspiration behind his latest body of work. While the artist has always focused on trees as subject matter, his earlier works mostly feature “made up” scenes that don’t necessarily portray a specific landscape. “More recently I’ve been doing what I like to call ‘portraits’ of specific trees,” he says, explaining that his goal is to show the individual traits and characteristics of each tree. “It’s a lot closer to realism than my past work,” he says.
Regardless of the style Nelson works in, his goal is always the same: to evoke a feeling—whatever it may be—in the viewer. “It’s not my job to make you feel a certain way, but it is my job to make you feel,” he says. —Lindsay Mitchell
Featured in the June 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art June 2013 digital download
Southwest Art June 2013 print issue
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