Chris Watts

Chris Watts

Certificate in Printmaking and Glass, Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Wroclaw (2006)
BFA Painting, BFA Design, College of Arts + Architecture, University of North Carolina–Charlotte (2009)
MFA Candidate, Yale School of Art, Yale University (2013)

Hometown: High Point, North Carolina.

Chris believed all throughout high school that we would be an architect once he graduated college. 

“I’ve been a maker since I was a kid. If I wasn’t trying to use every Christmas or birthday opportunity to add to my massive Lego collection, then I was likely drawing on something somewhere, or building tree houses in our backyard. In high school, I took loads of architecture drafting classes paired with an art elective here and there. I was pretty set on becoming an Architect. That changed after I took my first Painting 1 course with Maja Godlewska (professor of painting).”

Chris was the first UNC Charlotte student to participate in the Department of Art & Art History’s partnership with The Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Wroclaw, Poland.

“I never thought about dedicating my life to a creative practice outside of architecture and design work until after my studies abroad in undergrad. Seeing students from around the world, particularly students pursuing a fine art career, creating at such a high level, was inspiring for me. It was all they did.”

After these experiences, Chris made the shift to focus on his art and work towards his new goal. 

“The College of Arts + Architecture prepared me by giving me access. It gave me access to tools, time, and spaces to create that I didn't have before my time there. UNC Charlotte also gave me access to Maja Godlewska, J. Michael Simpson, Jae Emerling, and Kristen Rothrock. Susan Brenner’s mixed media classes allowed me to explore different techniques and contemplate materiality. Dave Brodeur and Eldred Hudson taught me rigor and the importance of detail. While Maja and Ann Klutz always found inspiring ways of reminding me that the possibilities are limitless in art making. The faculty all contributed a little something for me to walk away with.”

Chris is currently a full-time interdisciplinary visual artist who works between painting, installation, sculpture, and film. His studio is based in Brooklyn, New York. Recent projects include a solo exhibition, titled Love Chant, at Bode Projects in Berlin; a two-person installation with Welancora Gallery (New York) at Frieze Los Angeles with artist Helen Evans Ramsaran; and a four-person exhibition at Galerie Lelong in New York City. All three exhibitions included work from his series, The Spirits that Lend Strength are Invisible

The summer 2023 solo presentation at Bode Projects in Berlin was Chris’s debut European solo exhibition. The exhibition featured nine new works from his series, The Spirits that Lend Strength are Invisible. 

The Bode Gallery notes read: “An avid traveler of a mixed ethnic background, which represents not just his identity but the diverse cultural fabric of his native United States of America, contemporary artist, Chris Watts presents Love Chant, wherein he uses alchemy and the ancient history of Peruvian pigments to investigate the relationship between Africans and Native Americans prior to Europe‘s blue and green paintingcultural imposition. With bright purples, pinks, and oranges that burst and blend in luminous resin, this series of abstract works delve into folklore and ancient African deities. He investigates the collaborations between the gods of Africa and the gods of the ‘New World’ represented in a variety of cultural groups extending across North and South America. It is with the pigments he acquired during a trip to Peru, resin, among other materials, that he applies his interest in the alchemic properties of minerals and ancient traditions he learned during interactions with the local Shamans of the country.”

Chris has this advice for current students: “For those students who are in advanced courses and have started the journey of developing an artistic voice, I would encourage you to also seek out business & intro to law courses. Make yourself familiar. The knowledge will give you confidence and a piece of mind moving into the world outside of academia. These are necessary tools that aren’t taught in depth in art school at any level.” Be sure to keep up with his latest projects on his website.