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Our Artists: Fred Crist

Ongoing in the Gallery

Fred Crist is a Master Blacksmith based in Charlottesville, VA.

My sculptural direction consists of making abstract sculpture using

traditional forging techniques and tools, applying the principles of Chaos

Theory, formalizing the coincidental and emphasizing the conscious

process behind seemingly random forms.

My studio is located in an industrial complex in Waynesboro, VA. It is about

1500 square feet filled with the usual blacksmithing tools, 2 mechanical

power hammers, a 60-ton press coal forge and gas forge, 5 anvils of varying

sizes and a multitude of hand tools made and collected over 42 yrs. of forging.

My work covers everything from letter openers, small sculptures, gates and

railings, and free standing sculpture. Over the years I have met and briefly

worked with Paul Zimmermann, Freddie Habbermann, Serge Marchal, probably

the three most important influences in my ironwork outside the Yellin Studio. Other influences include Robert Motherwell, Alberto Giacometti, Franz Kline and Frank Stella and Eduardo Chillida to mention a few.

For me there is a physical and mental curiosity about metal. A material, when molten is a liquid, when cooled is a solid, and I tend to work on it when it lies between those two extremes as a flexible material. At it’s hot, orange, and malleable stage, it reflects the pliable nature of clay, having the ability to mold and shape it into desired forms but with a structural strength when cooled. The forging of hot metal can create both hard edge forms and soft curves within the same element. Pressing, hammering, shaping, bending and manipulating both surface and mass is the crucial structure of my sculpture and architectural work.

As an artist I understand it is important to have a knowledge of the craft and material you choose to work with. This process not only allows me direct control of the sculpture I make, but also allows me to draw on a historical context of the processes relative to the craft of Blacksmithing. In creating sculpture in this manner it allows me to connect with both the past and the present with each new piece I create. Standing before the forge, to the side of a hundred year old anvil used by Masters before me, holding a hammer I made in my hand, I reflect on the past, create in the present, forge out the future.

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