"My name is Chris Woods. I am a professional artist living and working in Chilliwack, BC, Canada (about 90 minutes east of Vancouver). I was born in 1970 and I have lived in Chilliwack since 1979.
My paintings over the last twenty-four years have looked at the far-reaching effects of mass-produced culture on the individual. They have appeared twice on the cover of Adbusters Magazine and in eighteen solo exhibitions in Canada and the United States since 1988.
Recently, I was invited to exhibit my work at The Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford, BC. This show, set to run in the summer of 2013, represents the first time in my twenty-four years as a visual artist that I have been asked to mount a solo exhibition in a museum setting.
The series I plan to show at The Reach will take an unusual look at a phenomenon that rests at the very foundation of modern popular culture: the original Star Wars Trilogy. By reexamining films that played a major role in the formative years of my generation I hope to examine what our childhood eyes may have missed.
The central idea of this new series, to be titled SANDSTORM, will be to look at the events of Star Wars from the perspective of the trilogy’s primary antagonist, Darth Vader. Even though we see Vader as a two-dimensional monster, his mask actually disguises a highly nuanced, and very human character. By flipping the narrative of the Star Wars Trilogy I intend to look beyond Hollywood’s ‘good-guy/bad-guy’ adventure-movie clichés.
Darth Vader’s journey to the dark side serves as a meditation on the nature of evil in the modern age. It also serves as entry point into understanding the mysterious forces that can slowly erode and distort the better human qualities we all share as individuals. Vader’s life followed a tragic arc that has many parallels in history and the history of painting.
These themes will be tackled in SANDSTORM through fourteen epic-scale oil-paintings on canvas inspired by 19th century French Romantic painter Eugene Delacroix. Delacroix was obsessed with painting scenes from epics by Dante, Virgil and Shakespeare. I see the Star Wars Trilogy as the most popular myth of our time, just as Delacroix saw The Divine Comedy, The Aeneid and Hamlet as the popular myths of his time.
The paintings will be based on digital ‘screen captures’ taken from the original theatrical cuts of the Star Wars Trilogy and the ‘deleted scenes’ found on the ‘Star Wars: Complete Saga’, Blu-Ray Box-Set. The show’s title, SANDSTORM, is taken from the most famous of these deleted scenes.
These paintings will chronicle the darkest visions and nightmares that Darth Vader may have suffered in his private moments during the events of the original Star Wars Trilogy. Even though we are used to standing beside the heroic characters of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia as they fight for good, to Vader they were mysterious figures that represented the greatest threat to him and his future. To Vader they are the villains to be feared and destroyed.
In an effort to better express these themes I plan to adopt a looser, more restless style of painting. By utilizing a more agitated and expressive approach I hope to emulate the ceaseless, personal torment that Vader fought through every day.
By seeing the events of the Star Wars trilogy from Darth Vader’s perspective I feel that we can gain true insight into the circumstances that can blind any individual and twist them into an ‘agent of evil’. This is the primary role of this exciting new series.
By showing this project in a museum setting, I now have the potential to bring my work to an entirely new audience and perhaps gain the attention of the larger fine-art community.
A museum venue for a visual-artist has a tremendous impact on the minds of professional curators, art collectors and critics and it could signal a major advancement for my artistic ‘brand’.
Even without these possibilities the challenge of completing work for a museum exhibition is a large one that I must complete successfully. The invitation from The Reach Gallery Museum is an incredible honor and I must respond with every tool I have in order to create a body of work suitable for exhibition in their incredible cultural venue.
The materials and resources I require to complete the SANDSTORM project are modest but vital to the successful conclusion of this exhibition. Materials such as paint, canvas, stretcher bars, brushes, gesso, painting mediums and varnishes comprise approximately $3000 of my requested budget and constitute the very core of what I require in the studio.
I am also planning to spend approximately $2000 to upgrade some of the tools I use in my day-to-day work such as an artist’s digital projector, and a new digital SLR camera to use in the production and documentation of the paintings themselves. These items will streamline my workflow and turn days of work into hours. A new camera will also allow me to properly document The Reach Gallery Museum SANDSTORM installation, the opening ceremonies and any related events such as talks or lectures.
The pictures I work from while painting also require a large amount of printer-ink and photographic paper to bring them to life. Also needed are research materials such as books, dvd’s, and periodicals of all types. The amount needed to purchase these items for SANDSTORM is approximately $1000.
The remainder of the funds will go toward basic studio and household living expenses i.e. heat, lighting. Ten months of worry-free studio time are just as essential to producing these works, as are the oil-paint, canvas and wood that go into their construction.
Some of you may feel that your money may be poorly spent in supporting an artist unknown to you but please keep in mind that over the last twenty-four years I have completed and exhibited 18 solo shows comprising over 175 major oil-paintings, drawings and prints.
I feel that this uninterrupted record of quality output makes me ideally suited to complete the SANDSTORM series in a timely manner exactly as proposed. Lack of hard work has never been an obstacle in bringing my dreams to reality.
As a reward for your support I am offering a variety of incentives for contributions both large and small. One of the positive side effects of working on this new series is that I have been creating a large number of preliminary drawings, paintings and prints that I am eager to share with those who donate.
Those individuals who are extremely generous will be free to chose from a few of the actual painting included in the SANDSTORM series itself. Incentives will also be offered at almost all levels from $500 to $250 to as low as $50. Please see the rest of my Indie-Go-Go fundraising profile for details.
If this project finds you unable to contribute in the monetary sense you can still contribute by sharing this request online with family and friends. Getting the word out about SANDSTORM is easy if you use the Indiegogo sharing tools that are available with this appeal. Any help you can give will most definitely contribute to the larger goal and it will also earn my eternal thanks.
If I do not reach the posted goal of $14,000, the funds that are raised will go first to purchasing the materials needed to complete this project and then to cover my day-to-day living expenses. Camera and projector upgrades can wait for another day.
Time and materials are the two essential elements I need to bring this series to life. My priorities will continue to remain with these fundamentals no matter the outcome of this campaign.
It has been a long time since I have been this excited about a potential new series and I am most confident that, with your help and my proven track-record, SANDSTORM will be an amazing series of paintings and an unqualified success for The Reach Gallery Museum and for myself.