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Kinetic Steampunk-Inspired Sculptures Move Gracefully Using Salvaged Metal Parts

Artist Chris Cole has spent his life exploring the relationship between two disparate worlds: machines and nature. To marry his two obsessions, Cole sculpts creatures with salvaged metal parts. Fish, birds, and reptiles have their defining features cut and formed in an industrial style that recalls the Steampunk movement’s fantastical mechanization.

Each of Cole’s sculptures feature moving parts. Birds gracefully flap their wings while fish swish their fins as if they’re navigating through treacherous water. These exquisite, fluid movements highlight the artist’s interest with functionality and aesthetics. “Understanding physics, and the way things work,” Cole explains, “has always been a fascination of mine.”

To create his contemporary works, Cole looks back to the 19th century. “My sculptures are heavily influenced by the visionaries of the Industrial Revolution,” he writes. “The quest for flight, the ceaseless desire for faster, more versatile and efficient transportation relied undeniably on the workings of the natural world.” Although he has a reverence for these advances, Cole fears we’ve become too disconnected with Mother Nature. “My work, therefore, considers a regression from mechanism back to organism.” It also serves as a reminder of what we miss while we sit inside with our devices—instead of looking at a bird on the screen, we could walk outside and see the fluttering of one in real life.

Chris Cole: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met and Manager of My Modern Met Store. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.

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