Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa: Christopher Paul Dean

Andrew Littlefield By Andrew Littlefield May 10, 2017

Tabula Rasa—meaning “Blank Slate”—is a new series in which we dive into the planning stages of a creative project by showing the early sketches and outlines from creators, comparing those to the finished product, and hearing from the creators themselves on how the project came to life. Read past installments here.

Christopher Paul Dean, Artist

Caution (26 Iteration.1)

“The relationship between humans and everyday-objects (and how fragile that relationship can be) is at the core of my practice. Through processes that include both manual and theoretical labor, I create work that simultaneously uses and disrupts our expectations with familiar spaces and things. I believe that, through providing an opportunity for viewers to question their past, current, and future interactions with familiar objects, I in turn become a part of the future experiences one has with the familiar. In this light, we can see my artwork as tools to infiltrate the viewer’s expectations.”

“I worked on the idea for this piece, titled Caution (26 Iteration.1), for over a year. I wanted to create a piece that would have endless possibilities for new compositions. So I made 110 individual blocks, giving the piece the ability to shift in structure so that it responds to whatever space it’s in in some way.”

“Up until Caution (26), most of my work was created from singular elements, and certainly couldn’t evolve/adapt to spaces in the same way this piece does. But besides adapting to a space, I wanted to create a piece that invited, obstructed, and warned (through the black and yellow caution sign) of its presence.”

“I continue to install this piece in my home to help further develop my relationship and understanding of the work. Given that my wife and I live here, I enjoy seeing first-hand how she (or my cat) respond to the work when they are obstructed by it in some way. In this regard, the work is constantly providing me with a chance to explore how it responds to spaces, and vice versa.

“This piece provided me with lots of opportunity for reflection during the build process. To make it, I had to cut the wood for 110 cubes, construct that wood into cubes, sand it, and then stick and cut all of the die-cuts down to match the size of each cube. This was labor intensive, and very repetitive. But that provided me with an opportunity to collect my thoughts, consider work beyond what I was making, and (given that I was approaching the end of my degree program at the time), really focus on the next chapter of my life as an artist.”

You can see more of Christopher’s work on his website or by following him on Instagram.