I consider myself a self-taught artist, a third generation color field painter with a passion for creating assemblages and visual poems on wood and paper using a wide variety of mediums and materials. My assemblages are puzzles, incorporating my color paintings and using found objects, the aged and broken bits of our culture's debris, that explore life and the world we live in. I like to think of my work as visual poems, a form of storytelling. In my work I juxtapose artifacts that are incongruous but that work together in an intriguing way around a central theme, which is sometimes serious and political, sometimes whimsical and humorous.
My collecting of found objects goes back to some of my earliest memories as a child picking up agates in the road with my dad back in Minnesota during the summer. He would line up the boys and we would walk down the road and talk and find stones as he would talk and tell stories. My love of telling stories must have originated then. In my teens I started to make what I used to call altars of junk in my bedroom on the book shelves; these were combined themes from my watercolor paintings, record albums, and cut outs from art books as the back grounds. Later, when I moved out on my own pad I was mostly playing in bands and I was living in apartments and so my walls became art pieces and again they all had found “things”… golf shoes, branches, shells, rocks and bits of wire, smashed cans and broken neon, lost photos, albums covers, my paintings, writings and poems I had written and cut out images from all over. As I would leave apartments I would throw big parties and give things off the walls to my friends and guests, making a crazy fun creative time of it. I would also save special objects for the new pad and start over again right away making a new wall. These grew into wallscapes which I use to do on 32x40 pieces of rag board and frame them in shadow box picture molding in the early 80’s. These were a larger form of the collages that I make now, which have 2 and 3 dimensional things on top of each other, creating a montage that fits into the theme (usually that becomes the title of the piece).
I still make all the frames for my work and if I have an idea that calls for a certain size I will make a box to fit the piece, always using found or recycled wood usually from a job site that I have worked on. These are lots of fun to make and are an endless source of humor and self-processing in my life. The act of constructing them helps me process our culture and all of the beauty and horror that is the world we live in. I love to do them and I feel it is the only way that I can survive at times. As I read and see the atrocity of the world we live in, man’s capacity to do harm to his fellow man seems bottomless, but at the same time it is equally amazing to see that man’s ability and capacity to be kind, loving, selfless, giving and generous to his fellow man is as deeply endless – something that we/I must never forget.
Having focused on making assemblages for the last 20 years I have become more refined and selective with the objects I use and also the amount of objects I use in each piece, paring down over time. This gives me a set size, boundaries and limitations to work within. As I quit playing music professionally and I started to work more on painting and house remodeling for my day job, I started to use kitchen drawers and scraps of plywood for my work and these became more of official assemblages. I am still working with the found and discarded scraps of our great beautiful ugly culture that we live in, and am using these as statements and reflections on our lives in the 21st century. Each piece is inspired by either my dreams, or what’s going on in my life and or the world we live in. When I work I listen to a lot of jazz, which influences my thinking along the way. In terms of the relationship between visual art and music, I have found that my work has evolved to be almost like a set designs for a play or operatic in design or as I like to say visual poems or puns.
Throughout it all, from my early days collecting rocks as a child to today, what has remained the same for me is the process: the making and doing, very clear direct action, no fear or second-guessing, deliberate thought and movement with intent. I’m at one with the universe when I’m in my studio working, and the universe provides what I need every time. If I need a fastener or a screw or an object to complete a statement then the world manifests it for me in my studio or somewhere in our house or yard. Now this might be because I have lived and worked in our house for twenty three years, but I feel it is also because in my life’s work I have become attuned to the world around me and when I reach out into the world I’m given just what I need to complete the piece that I’m working on.
See more of Hynes' work on our Artwork page, and at christopherhynes.com and lyrical-expressions.com
Each month we will select and feature several stories from the archive, contributing reflections and comments on the value and impact of discarded objects in our world, as well as addressing that particular story's relationship and resonance to the larger theoretical and philosophical principles underlying the project. The complete text of the original stories can be accessed by navigating the interactive map based on location (using the zoom and pan feature), or by author's name on the bar to the left of the map.