Ian McNultyPoetry, music, street culture, gardening, dogs and a myriad of other interests are just as important to the work of local ceramic artist Christopher Scott Brumfield as clay and the kiln. They’re all part of the collection of experiences and influences he mines and interprets in his sculpture installation pieces of ceramics and found objects.Multifaceted, layered in meaning and visually stunning, these pieces also speak to his fascination with collections, which he says help get to the heart of the creative impulse across mediums.“Constructing a garden, a sculpture or a poem, there’s a pattern in the thought process of doing that, a collection of ideas and how they’re arranged,” he says. “Themes emerge from those collections.”Brumfield was born and raised near Baton Rouge and describes his upbringing as an adventure as his parents exposed him to art, intellectual ideas and travel. His introduction to sculpture came almost by chance when college friends convinced him to take a course not long before graduation. He was instantly enthralled. “I never looked back, I just wanted to touch this every day,” Brumfield says. Today, he lives in the Bywater and travels on a circuit of Recovery School District campuses teaching art courses for gifted students.
Beneath the eye-catching imagery of his work, Brumfield imbues many of his pieces with both cultural and personal subtexts. A piece called “Blue Ward” is a tabletop collection of clay buildings, people and animals that Brumfield says is a dream city made up partly of New Orleans, partly of Prague and partly of the other cities where he has lived.
Late last fall, he was developing a new piece based on a huge chessboard filled with an army of royalty and soldiers connected with metal chains. It is similar in style to an earlier work, called “Clifton’s Children,” which featured a collection of fearsome-looking Victorian dolls, each attached by chains to owls statues and all looming down from a very high, very steep attic ladder.
“They start to interact,” he says of his projects. “They start to have a dialogue with each other and sometimes I feel like I’m just along for the ride.”
To see examples of Brumfield’s work, go to www.christopherscottbrumfield.com or www.xtofu.blogspot.com. In February, he will also be part of NOLA Fired Up, www.nolafiredup.org, a citywide ceramics conference featuring the work of more than 20 artists.