There’s more to the work of Christopher David White than meets the eye. At first glance, it appears that his surreal sculptures are meticulously carved from wood. But, look again. The pieces are not made of wood; they are handcrafted from clay. By mimicking the texture and grain of the wood (even its knots), White is able to convincingly craft the human form so that it looks like it’s been carved and chipped away from a block of timber as opposed to being built from the ground up.
White uses trompe-l'œil to make a powerful statement about the place of humanity in the world. “Human is to nature as skin is to bark—as roots are to veins,” he writes. “Humanity is inextricably linked to the natural world. Our biological patterns are echoed throughout the universe, from the micro to the macro, from our DNA to the cosmos. Yet we have created barriers between ourselves and nature. We have placed ourselves into opposition with this world that sustains us. We have become outsiders to everything that makes us who we are.”
Since we last marveled at his work, White has created ceramic pieces that explore our relationship to nature, and how everything we do affects the fragile balance between humanity and the environment. Clay plays an integral role in their concept. It has the ability to mimic a variety of materials, something that the artist takes advantage of—particularly when it comes to the idea of illusion.
“The true illusion is the world in which humanity has created. It is an existence that seeks to separate itself from nature,” White explains. “The juxtaposition of natural and man-made features in combination with the skewing of scale, proportion, and material, helps create an altered perception—forcing the viewer to look closer both externally and internally.”