Christopher Abrams has been the Artist-in-Residence at Brandeis for the best part of 10 years. When he first came here, he was barely out of graduate school. He has come a long way since then; at the end of January, Abrams was accepted as a member of the Boston Sculptors Gallery.
Boston Sculptors Gallery is a prestigious “members-run collective gallery,” as the group’s webiste explains. The group stays at a constant 36 members, only accepting new members when a current one departs. Members exhibit their work at least once in the Gallery, and receive benefits such as professional support and opportunities to exhibit in galleries outside of the Boston area. In exchange for these benefits, members pay annual dues and must volunteer for a certain number of obligations such as “gallery sittings or committee tasks.”
As a new member, Abrams is preparing for his solo-exhibit, which will open next January for four to six weeks. The exhibit will host a collection of his work. While it seems a far way away, Abrams is already preparing.
“I’m working on a little series of sculptures that are sort of based on science fiction movie props,” Abrams explained, “I’ve always been really into nautical forms, aeronautical forms.”
His inspiration for the series came, almost a decade ago, from a display at the Museum of Science that was made up of movie props. “I’m making these things that are loosely based on that … They’ll be abstract, in other words, they won’t be spaceships or anything like that, but they borrow from that prop building language,” Abrams said.
In his planning, Abrams is thinking about movie props with an end goal of portraying abstract designs based off of and acting as those props in pictures and even film.
“They’ll behave as though they were movie props but not with the succinct ‘It’s a spaceship!’ phenomenon,” Abrams said. While in the midst of preparing for his Gallery debut, however, Abrams still packs a busy schedule.
“I’m realizing, with mixed success, that I have to very carefully structure my time so that I carve out a couple of hours here and there where I get into the studio and do what I need to do.”
Along with working on his own projects, Abrams teaches here at Brandeis every semester. Currently, he is teaching Introduction to 3D Design as well as Sculpture in the Age of New Media.
For Abrams, making the change from studying art at graduate school to teaching it to undergraduates wasn’t hard. Teaching has always come naturally to him. “I’d always had this inclination to share stuff that I’ve learned … If I learned something new and I thought it was cool, then I wanted somebody else to know about it.”
In “Sculpture in the Age of New Media,” he engages students in his passion for sculpting, but through digital fabrication. “You have to really drill down to what is at the core of a technique or a concept,” said Abrams on teaching the specifics of sculpting.
This summer, Abrams has created another learning experience for students. He is going to offer an architectural design studies program as part of the summer Justice Brandeis Semester. The program will involve three tightly knit classes. The first class will be a study of architectural drawing, while the second will take a look at real examples of things that have been built, in some cases meeting the architect who designed the structure. In the third course, the class will build something on campus.
“It’s going to be modest, but we’re going to design some basic stuff and then build something here on campus.” The priority deadline for applying to the summer program is March 1; the final deadline is March 15.
In addition to preparing for his big exhibit, Abrams is also considering taking advantage of one of the opportunities to exhibit outside of the immediate area that the Gallery offers. Next summer at the Daniel Chester French Estate in western Massachusetts, there will be an outdoor exhibit. “The pieces have to be made to last in the weather … It’s an interesting challenge,” Abrams said. For now though, Abram’s time is focused on his big reveal as a new member of the Boston Sculptors Gallery next January.