Award Winners / Artist Profile

About the Artist

Cris Bruch (Seattle) is a sculptor who integrates a formal aesthetic characterized by the use of non-traditional materials and repetitive processes with a social and philosophical conceptual basis. He has received many awards including The Pollock Krasner Foundation award, The Northwest Major Works Award from the Seattle Arts Commission, The Seattle Art Museum’s Betty Bowen Memorial Award and The Neddy Fellowship from the Behnke Foundation. His work has been written about in ArtNews, High Performance, Artweek, Art in America and ArtForum. A comprehensive survey of his work was presented by the Salt Lake Art Center, UT in 2003, portions of which then traveled to the Boise Art Museum, ID in 2004. He has completed many large-scale public commissions, and earned an MFA and MA at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Cris received a 2014 James W. Ray Venture Project Award for his Great Plains Project, in which he will create objects, installations and performances that express emotional and practical poetic truths about his family’s history and experience on the Great Plains from 1919 to 1940. Bruch will revisit Genoa, CO, talking with people and looking at the physical evidence of their lives. This region was the homeland of his father’s family as well as the place where his grandparents got married in 1919. As dry land farmers, his grandparents survived the Dust Bowl, the Depression, and the grasshopper plagues before moving to Missouri in 1940. By referencing a letter that his grandmother wrote to his dad describing the first house that she lived in, one of Bruch’s projects focuses on producing an installation that reflects the provisional vernacular of wooden farm buildings, and incorporates objects and arrangements that reflect on how values and aesthetics have changed since his grandparents’ time. Bruch speculates that this project will be relevant to many people today due to the outsize impacts of economically induced emigration, harsh weather, and the financial milieu. In spite of these adversities, Bruch exemplifies that there is no shortage of generosity, compassion, humor, invention, and hard work. These are the qualities he celebrates in his new work.

Cris will use funding from his 2011 GAP for support of an upcoming exhibition in Herne, Germany, where he has been invited to show at the Flottman Hallen art space as part of a two-person exhibition with his friend and colleague, the German artist Andreas Bee. Specifically, he will use funding for the purchase of materials, airfare from Seattle, and the cost of additional travel while in Germany to promote the work.

Cris received a 2006 GAP for the documentation and promotion of new and future work. The projects to be documented include exhibitions at Kittredge Gallery, Tacoma (2006), Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, OR (2006), outdoor integrated sculpture, new Federal Courthouse, Eugene, OR (2006), a new bridge at Mount Si for which Bruch is the Design Team artist (2007), an outdoor sculpture for private development, Seattle, (2007) and new works to be shown at Lawrimore Project Gallery, Seattle. With this funding, new works will be professionally photographed for both slide and digital format. “Self-promotion is extremely important for artists, and often serves as our best means of securing future exhibitions or commissions and in maintaining relationships with arts professionals…” says the artist.

As part of his Fellowship’s Meet the Artist requirements, Cris gave a talk at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center on how his work has developed since 1995, when he was awarded a commission to make an entrance portal for the Arts Center. An audience of 20 people attended the talk, at which Bruch spoke about his involvement with process and limitation, and his interests in time, turbulence, and curvature. Many questions arose regarding the nature of art-making in general, and specific questions about Bruch’s approach to materials and concepts.

Artist's Addenda: Chris recently received a $15,000 James W. Ray Venture Project Award for 2014.

Information included above was provided by artist at the time of application.
From the Artist

I am deeply honored to receive the James W. Ray Venture Project Award. It comes at a time when the support is especially welcome and needed, and will allow me to explore the themes that inspire my current work. When I first read of the James W. Ray Awards, I was gratified to know that new and substantive financial support would be available to Washington artists, never dreaming that I would be among the recipients in its inaugural year. I extend sincere thanks to the nominators who included me among those to be considered for this honor and to the panelists who selected me for this distinction. My congratulations go to the incredibly talented artists--Jessika Kenney and Amy O’Neal--with whom I share this recognition. I am especially pleased for the opportunity to work with the Frye Art Museum as I develop this newest body of work with the unprecedented financial support and encouragement of the James W. Ray Venture Project Award.

Cris Bruch