New Milford sculptor Chris Plaisted finds beauty in contrasting material and examining forms of conflict.
Softspoken by nature, Chris Plaisted builds sculptures that are anything but quiet. Complex arrangements of steel, copper, wood, and concrete commune together to form sculptures, large and small, that emit a brooding but gentle grace. Originally from New Hampshire, Plaisted graduated from Parson’s New School for Design in New York City, and has maintained a longstanding career as a graphic design artist. However, six years ago he reignited a childhood love for woodwork and metalsmithing that now drives his creative practice.
“My work tends to focus on forms of conflict,” he says. “It may be in the concept—man vs. nature, social vs. emotion—or it may be the tension created by the use of contrasting materials.” Focusing primarily on what he sees as “permanent materials” such as wood, steel, copper, concrete, and other precious metals, Plaisted intensifies his materials by placing them in opposition, highlighting their strengths and vulnerabilities.
With an air of mystery, Plaisted’s sculptures look like stories waiting to unfold. His sculpture Harbinger, impressive in both size and skill, is inspired by religious artifacts at The Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection of European medieval art and architecture. “As you walk around it, you will see a cross, a 4 for the [four] horseman of the apocalypse and a 7 for the seven plagues,” he says. Smaller sculptures, such as Rapture, display a secret intimate story between the materials of steel, copper, and wood coming together in an delicate and enduring embrace.
Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood between Candlewood Lake and the Housatonic River in Connecticut, Plaisted draws inspiration from the nature around him, staying busy across many creative forms that include sculpture, graphic design, and painting. Plaisted hails from a creative family; his father is an acclaimed pastiche artist and his grandmother is an award-winning tinsel folk artist, and both laid the groundwork for his creative childhood. At an early age, he was introduced to metal and woodwork by a neighbor who was a welder.
Plaisted’s work currently resides at The Mount, the Berkshire historic estate of famed novelist Edith Wharton, as well as the Pierce Ball Gallery in Stamford, Connecticut. “As I continue to hopefully create visually appealing art, I don’t want to be constrained by style or medium,” Plaisted says. “Quite the opposite; they should flow to the next piece no matter the form or expression.”