In Chris Deverill‘s opinion, if your art is inspired by animals it’s important live with one foot in the wild. That’s why he resides with his wife and dogs on the edge of a wildlife habitat in Tucson, Arizona.
“I am pleased to have a family of javelina visit daily, along with deer, quail, a seemingly endless parade of bunnies, lizards and chipmunks, and the occasional bobcat,” Chris says of his life in the Sonoran Desert. “One can spend many happy hours lost in their innate beauty, interesting interactions and honest personalities.” For Chris, these quiet moments of observation are so joyful that he feels helplessly compelled to immortalize them in bronze.
Chris grew up in Hawaii and lived in Alaska and Colorado for years, experiences that gave him a deep appreciation for nature. In Alaska he became an accomplished nature photographer and led a team of 15 canines in the 1982 Iditarod Sled Dog Race.
It was only later that Chris tried his hand at sculpting, though he’d always had an interest in it. “It always seemed to me that the timeless, enduring beauty of bronze touches the soul in ways that other mediums cannot,” he says.
The aspiring sculptor started by searching out the best artists in the country, studying under Ed Hlavka and Joshua Spendlove in St. George, Utah and attending seminars with acclaimed sculptors like Ken Rowe, Jason Scull and Sandy Scott.
Chris quickly found that he loved the process of sculpting as much as its final products. Nowadays he’ll take a table, tools and clay into the wild and sculpt animals from life, watching as they roam around him and capturing their mannerisms in the abstracted lines of his sculptures.
In “Nutmeg”, a jackrabbit is reduced to a highly textured arc of bronze with enormous ears. “Stretch” captures the lanky stride of a mare through a pair of gracefully elongated legs. Many of Chris’ works show interactions between animals: in the whimsical sculpture “The Encounter” a little dog cranes its neck to engage in a staring contest with a gargantuan horse.
“My greatest joy is to produce work that sparks in the observer a laugh or a warmth or a recognized familiarity which beckons,” Chris says. “It is that edge or sense of emotion that I hope to impart that draws one in.”
Next time you visit Waxlander, let Chris Deverill draw you straight into his animals’ worlds. Come explore the edge of the wild.