Off By Christopher Sproat

I’m interested in the direction architecture is going – the hybridization of past styles and the expression of something beyond function.   I think that similar things are happening in art and that’s a good time for art and architecture to remarry.   Art should be used as a necessary element in architecture, as integral as glass or concrete.   Then there will be a chance for art and architecture to succeed in an architectural setting again.

Before I began to make furniture and lamps, much of my sculpture was made specifically for the place it was going to occupy.   I didn’t see my pieces as mobile, salable, or applicable to more than one situation.   Furniture offers an alternative to specificity and I like the mobility of furniture because it can go to unforeseen places.

My work often straddles the line between sculpture and utilitarian object.   Even when I design completely utilitarian objects, I approach them differently from the way an architect would.   After all, the sensibility that makes someone an artist is completely different from the sensibility that makes someone an architect.   Architects usually design furniture with fabrication in mind.   They try to exploit the possibilities of the materials that they’re using.

In comparison, when I create furniture, I am interested in invoking an existence beyond function.   I approach pieces such as Woolworth Lamp in terms of personal issues and as a means of expressing my personal vision (Illus. 1) I and not interested in hitting an existing market, so in that sense I belong on the periphery of commerce.   To me, productivity means realizing a number of different ideas.   Rather than spending a great deal of time getting a few pieces mass-produced, I would prefer to execute a great number of pieces in wood.

Whereas most architects approach lighting designed by using stock fixtures, artist might add a unique or idiosyncratic configuration to lighting design.   Pieces like the Torf Installation provide a functional level of illumination while delineating space and dramatizing their architectural settings    (Illus. 5).

I am involved with the creation of a new cultural vision, the development of the consistent aesthetic, which encompasses all aspects of art and environment.   A shortcoming of Post-Modernism is that it often glibly pastiches past styles; the imaginative frontier is not developed forward.   Our task is to parallel Egyptian, Persian and Assyrian cultures.   The aesthetic, which I envision, is a synthesis of historical aesthetics, but it has to have its own character, reflecting our concept of present and future.

My aesthetic is moonlit rather than sunlit; it has been described by some as “electromyhtic”.   It applies to gallery installations, drawings, furniture and light sculptures.   If it has analogues in literature, they would be Kafka, C. S. Lewis and Sartre.

Installations allow total control of the gallery situation.   Palace at Mantis is one example of how I fuse walls, lighting, furniture and sculpture into one coherent aesthetic, (Illus. 6).   I like the poetic injustice of installations because it is similar to the temporality of life, but I ideally would like to create a permanent contained environment, possibly as a room or small wing of the museum that would embody values and provide coherent aesthetic experience.

One influence, which led me to apply a cohesive vision to my work, was the Maight Museum in Nice.   I saw a Miro show there and the grounds, the quality of light and the entire environment meshed so perfectly that it made an indelible impression.   Similarly various special environments in museums, such as is the Egyptian section of the Boston Museum, have a strong emotional impact on me.   The aesthetic experience provided by such environments is the modern person’s equivalent of religious experience.