By: Suzette Pujols, Intro to Journalism, Spring 2023
New England College’s Chester Gallery held a reception for Christopher Volpe on Wednesday, March 29. Volpe is an artist, writer, and teacher living in New Hampshire. He discusses his journey through his pieces, his inspirations, and the natural world.
His series was inspired in 2015 due to the novel Moby Dick. He began to use tar on his canvases, as a reference to the fossil fuel industry. In comparison to Moby Dick, whale oil began as a modern American global industry. The domination of this industry nearly caused an extinction to all whales. Volpe views the colors of the tar as the colors of pollution and climate change.
“You know how in Moby Dick they go after the whale and the whale sinks the ship and then everybody dies. I just see that as a metaphor for what we’re doing,” he said.
Volpe has taught painting, literature, and the history of art at various colleges and universities. He expresses how terrifying stepping into teaching was, he decided that the only way to economically grow as a writer or artist was to get a teaching position. In graduate school, Volpe applied for and received a teaching assistantship.
“I used to get cold sweats, but it just became easier over time,” he said.
When Volpe began painting, he’d been teaching poetry and literature for so long that it was all a natural fit.
“I found it super easy, I think it’s because I let myself fail. I didn’t take it seriously,” Volpe said.
Volpe targets his pieces to represent terrible beauty, as in something that doesn’t sugarcoat darkness. His favorite piece is one of the first ones he’s created, called “Any Human Thing.” The piece embodied all the elements that came into fruition due to the series.
Volpe sees his art through the lens of the natural world, including the negative aspects of it. He utilizes his surroundings to create and share stories of our society that is losing its touch to nature due to the easy access the fossil fuel industry has given us for so many things, it’s the foundation of our economy.
In the ending of the reception, Christopher Volpe has inspired creative minds with the ideas that art doesn’t change the world, but it can change minds and makes space for alternatives.
“Whatever you do as an artist, make it something meaningful,” Volpe said.