Chris Leonard, Texas Sculpture Group
From Mcallen, Texas
Just what am I making? If I were decidedly effective in my artistic endeavors through action and energy I’d arrive at a sensation of elemental power. The twenty-first century in America, there are so many choices! But are these choices always clear? I seem to find myself meandering off into symbolic meaning, metaphysical speculation, technical tribulations, and contemplative moods. As soon as I answer one question and solve a problem another three or five invariably show up. What I want is a smile on the face, a twinkle in the eye, a healthy glow in the gut, and maybe even a friend to confide in. If I don’t have these things, I’ve decided to make them. Much of my current work seems to explore boundaries; when does the positive connotation of universal optimism morph into the over the top proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free to engage in the addiction and fixation on the pursuit of more consumable short term solutions? Whatever you’ve got, I want, if only for a little while.
Chris Leonard was born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1962. He currently lives and works in McAllen, Texas where he is a ceramics instructor at South Texas College. Leonard earned a BFA in Painting with additional hours to complete the Art Education Sequence from the University of Northern Iowa in 1985. With work and dreams inspired by Chicago’s Hairy Who and most forms of expressionistic excess, unable to find firm grounding substitute teaching or delivering pizzas in the Des Moines area, he quickly departed for the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in 1987 and quickly began to illustrate high school algebra test O’ funs after expanding his educational certification. At the completion of his fourteenth year of public school teaching at the dawn of the twenty first century, Mr. Leonard returned to school full-time at the University of Texas Pan American and dove into their fledgling MFA program, finishing studies in 2003. Chris joined the South Texas College art faculty in 2009 following service as a sabbatical replacement in the UTPA ceramics department as a full time lecturer from 2006-2009. Leonard now teaches ceramics at the South Texas College’s Pecan Campus and has helped to coordinate their South Texas Ceramic Showdown for the past ten years. As the twenty-first century rolls on, work that blends his Midwestern upbringing with media mixed in several directions continues to show fairly steadily on both sides of the Rio Grande where he has now spent half of his life.