Wednesday, 11 July 2012

design icon: Christopher Conte

Christopher Conte was born in Bergen, Norway where he began drawing at age three. At age six, shortly after moving to New York, he started taking college art classes at Hofstra University following a recommendation from his first grade teacher. While still in high school he also attended St. John’s University under an advanced placement program. In the 11th grade he was awarded several scholarships to attend Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Once at Pratt, he also studied human anatomy at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital through a program sponsored by Columbia University.

As an illustration major at Pratt, Christopher began creating his first mechanical sculptures as illustrations. His professors strongly encouraged this new direction and by his senior year, most of his work was three-dimensional. After earning a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art (BFA) from Pratt Institute, he entered the prosthetics field and began making artificial limbs for amputees in New York. Along with a combined love for sculpture, medical-science, and biomechanics, the field enabled Chris to apply his natural talents to help amputees, which he did for 16 years as a certified prosthetist. Creating sculpture, purely for the sake of being sculpture, however, never escaped as his deepest passion. In 2008, he began his career as a full-time artist.

Christopher uses a wide range of experience, along with diverse materials and construction techniques, to create his unique one-of-a-kind pieces. The work is usually a combination of original cast components with found / recycled parts using materials ranging from bronze to carbon fiber. Many of the exotic materials used in both the aerospace industry and the prosthetics field have found their way into his work. While a strong connection with robotics and technology is present in all of Chris’ work, ancient techniques such as lost-wax bronze casting have become an integral part of the process as well. The process involved in creating just one sculpture can often take months, sometimes, in the case of a series, several years to evolve.

In 2007, Christopher began offering these unique pieces for sale through galleries for the first time. In May 2008, Chris’ work went on display in a two person show at Last Rites Gallery owned by the legendary tattoo artist, Paul Booth. Less than one month later one of his sculptures went on display in National Museum in Washington DC. His sculptures have appeared on The Discovery Channel, Discover Magazine, The Learning Channel, MTV Networks in Popular Science and Wired Magazine. His work has also sparked the interest of the FBI, Lockheed Martin, and in 2008, Chris began working closely with former Northrop Grumman engineers and model makers.

In March 2009 Chris was asked to speak, take questions, and display his work at an international technology and design conference in Sweden called Material Fusion. In June 2009 Chris loaned several of his sculptures to the oldest museum in the United States, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass for a one-year exhibition.

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