Chris Condon’s nature-inspired sculpture is an homage to Georgia’s landscape

9 questions for the Atlanta artist
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Chris Condon
Photograph by Audra Melton

Where did you grow up?
In Westport, Massachusetts, a small farm town about an hour south of Boston. I’m the youngest of three brothers, and my parents still live in the house where we grew up. I’ve been living in Atlanta for nearly 20 years.

Chris Condon
Small pieces, such as birds and nests, start at $350.

Photograph by Audra Melton

How did your art career begin?
I have loved to draw since I was little. Nature was always my subject. I used to get up early on Saturday mornings before cartoons came on and watch a show called Drawing from Nature, with Captain Bob. Loved it! My parents supported my interest and put me in all kinds of art classes. I went to RISD [Rhode Island School of Design], a childhood dream of mine, and got a BFA in sculpture.

What influences and inspires your work?
Nature—the flora and fauna I see on a daily basis. As an owner of a flower and garden shop [Pollen in Buckhead], I am around plants and flowers all day and encounter a lot of small animals, insects, fungi, etc. I am also interested in sculptures and ceremonial objects from primitive cultures—American Indian, African, and New Zealand tribes.

Chris Condon
The raccoon is made from oak, cedar, and limestone, and is one of an interacting pair ($3,400 each).

Photograph by Audra Melton

What kinds of materials do you use and how do you source them?
I am a bit of a collector and gather interesting branches, rocks, shells, bones, and burls that I find on my walks and travels. I also scavenge wood that I find on the side of the road, from recently felled trees to discarded wood furniture and pallets. I like letting the material guide my work. By using such different materials and types of wood, I am able to get great color and textures. I find the surprise of not knowing how a piece is going to finish until the end exciting.

How do you name your works?
I don’t take it too seriously. I often simply number my pieces. Sometimes I try to find an idea from the narrative I created, and other times I just choose something in the same manner you’d name a dog, with a fun and fitting name.

What has been or is your most challenging project?
Hands down, the installation I just completed for the new Fulton County Library in Roswell. I received the commission over two years ago and worked on it on and off since then. It is a multipiece installation on nine different sites throughout the library. The pieces are interacting with the architecture, with carved trees growing up around the columns, filled with birds and raccoons and other animals climbing on the bookshelves.

What have been some of the high points of your career?
Creating the Fulton County Library commission, carving the Green Man sculpture for the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and receiving a fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center.

Describe your work setting.
My studio is at the Art Farm at Serenbe, where we are developing our Artist in Residence program to include studio and performance space. The setting is definitely fostering my work and making me more productive.

What would be your dream work, the one you’d create if time and money were no objects?
I would love to create a whole environment for my work to reside in a gallery or museum. The works I create now are little bits and fragments that give you a glimpse of nature taken out of their setting. One day, I would love to complete the scene—from the trees to the understory of the forest floor, to the fungi growing on the branches. It would be a room filled with life and surprises everywhere, giving the viewer the same sensation that I have when I walk in the woods—when I quiet down and slow my inner pace to take it all in.

Where to buy
Condon’s work is available at The Signature Shop, 3267 Roswell Road, and through his website, chricondonsculpture.com

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

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