The Purpose in My Art

DruryVerticalCrestB&WI recently spoke in a class at Drury University and the class collectively asked me 10 questions about my work and my motivations behind it.  Please let me know what you think and give me any suggestions you may have to help me become more effective at my passion.

What are your most important sources of inspiration and motivation?

My central source of inspiration is God’s design for the world, our lives, and His bigger story. I find this in the metaphors, narrative and imagery of the Bible, His creation, and his beautiful yet broken people. I also find a great deal of inspiration from modern visual language and psychology and the books, magazines articles and museums that lead the world in creating and refining this language.

How I intend for my art to be used?

This is pivotal. Simply put, I want to grow the kingdom of God. My work chips away at our false reality and reveal the truth of God’s reality. I challenge ho-hum Christians to journey down the rewarding, yet unpredictable path of the kingdom of heaven. My work presents elements of that character of God in a compelling, fresh way to people who have bitterness toward the modern church.

Who is your intended audience?

I want Christians to join me in a journey beyond a superficial outer appearance and a plastic smile and dig into the reality of our mutual brokenness and encourage us to completely give our lives in full submission to God. This is a path I’m just now realizing exists. I intend to winsomely challenge non-believers to push past their idea of what Christianity and church might be and look toward the reality of what it is: a full life following a God who loves us, a God who is bigger than the modern church often shows that He is. I specifically connect with an audience often estranged and misunderstood by modern American church culture.

What is the ideal physical setting for your work?

As an instrumentalist, my work is meant to be displayed in galleries, screened internationally, gather wide exposure, and open new doors of dialogue in the art community. The more people it reaches and engage with, the more effective it is.

What is the balance of will and unpredictability in making your work?

I am a hyperplanner and think about projects at great length and detail. Usually, I have projects completed in my head before the first brush stroke. That being said, I love surprises and often try to create situations where they can happen. For this reason, I try to incorporate natural patterns, textures, tones and processes into my work to create a complexity that I simply could not create on my own.

What is your attitude toward making something beautiful?

Beauty is never my goal, but a only tool to be used to better convey the meaning of a work. Currently, the themes that I’m exploring do not lend themselves to beauty and incorporating it could be inappropriate and water down it’s potency.

Does being an artist carry with it any social responsibilities?

Tremendously. My responsibility as an artist is to genuinely know and be known by God and then simply exist and create as I want. Without a heart that is genuine and supernatural inspiration, anything I create will be not only bland and tasteless, but may actually accomplish exactly the opposite of what I intend it to. It could push people further away from Christ and his kingdom. As I create bolder and bolder work, I must build it on an increasingly deeper and more solid belief and understanding.

What do you hate to hear about my work?

Anything that smells like “that’s cliche” and “that’s on the nose.”

How would you describe your work?

My work is entirely metaphorical. My paintings and narrative films use any device necessary to communicate accurately the message the specific piece entails. The last few years, my paintings have reflected on our broken nature and the brokenness of the world and my work has been darker with heavy and powerful spiritual undertones contained in the textures, colors, and materials used.

What is the work of the artist?

The role of the artist is to create for the glory of the master Creator. Soli Deo Gloria.

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Dissonance & Grace

I had an amazing team of people that competed in the local SATO 48 film festival where we had 48 hours to create a short film inspired by the “inspiration package” which was given to us at the beginning of the weekend. I composed the piano piece and directed the film. We did very well in the festival and won 4 out of 12 categories competing against 96 teams. We won:

Best Composition
Best Cinematography
Best Direction
Best Art Direction

 

Dissonance & Grace – a restoration in A minor from Dancing Fox Films on Vimeo.

Dissonance and Grace is an original piano composition that explores the mess we create as we avert God's plan for our lives. When we live in His will, we can create the beautiful music of a full life; harmony in His perfect design.

This film was written, shot, edited, and graded in 48 hours as part of the SATO 48 Film Festival.
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SPOILERS and fun facts:
-We actually completely blew up the piano, shot it with a cannon as well as set it on fire, but the high powered explosives we used were to fast for our camera and the other footage didn't cut well.
-It was raining part of our shooting day (that really cut into our precious 48 hours)
-We blew out 3 ARRI lights because of voltage peaks in the countryside.
-There are two different onscreen Pez dispensers that made the final cut.
-The piano is an antique dating from the 1800's…shame.
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SATO 48 Guidelines:
Competitors are given an "Inspiration package" at the beginning of the contest to get them started. This year's Inspiration Package consisted of four words:

INVENTOR
FOUNDER
MENTOR
LOVER

One of your two principal characters must be an inventor, founder, mentor, or lover, and the other principal character must be one of the remaining three. You MUST use each word at least once in dialogue, or show the word on-screen.
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DISSONANCE & GRACE
A Dancing Fox Films Production
In association with A102 Studios

Introducing Parker Payne & Ciera Carson
Produced by Sarah Kessinger
Directed by Christopher Kaspar
Director of Photography Lisa Prevost
Camera Operator Franquelis Diaz
Assistant Director Elizabeth Blomenkamp
Sound Design by Chris Davis
Original Composition by Christopher Kaspar
Practical Effects by Caleb Kessinger
Additional Support Provided by:
Miriam Kessinger
Nathaniel Kessinger
John Wilson
John Greenhaw
Crystal Greenhaw
Andy Wilson

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Member’s Only – 80’s Tribute Video

Watch this in HD on Vimeo! (or at least full screen).

This was an extremely fun project I got to work on with an amazing team and the guys are absolutely nuts.

The band itself won 417 magazine’s best local band (quite an honor) and I would consider them one of the nation’s premier 80’s tribute bands.

How many guys do you know can wear multicolored spandex and wigs and still look cool?

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Instrumentalism

Now that the summer has come, I’m back in the studio at Drury Univerisity working on sculpture this semester.  I’ve had some time to figure out my purpose for my art and better communicate why I do what I do.

It has taken me years to figure out this statement and it can and will be revised as I grow and change as an artist and a believer.  This will help you understand my work better, although I hope that it can stand on it’s own.  My work is about the story, conversations and relationships of this world.  My inspiration is God’s word, His story, His creation, and all of his broken people.  I look at the pain of this fallen world, the tremendous brokenness of us all, and the opportunity for us to live lives of joy and peace.

“As a cross-disciplinary artist, I am instrumentally driven by a strong desire to share the love of Christ using visual and experiential metaphors to reveal truth about our wold and Creator in winsome, compelling ways.”

In the past, I have hated church and certain types of Christians, but I have come to see that they are broken people that need God’s grace just as much as anybody else.  In the past, I have shrouded my true artistic intentions behind a veil to keep from being labeled as one of the religious hypocrites that I so readily despise.  Very recently, I have “come out of the closet” as a believer in the art community because I know that I’m not one of them.  I do love (or at least I try) I don’t judge (or at least I try) and I actually create compelling work (or at least I try).  I want to care about other people, whatever and wherever life has taken them and share the love and truth of a full life knowing and being known by God…a life of peace and joy that I’ve experienced. So I come to the canvas as a broken person who has seen and tasted the darker side of life, but I know that with God’s grace, the selfish intentions I harbor can be replaced with the perfect love of Christ for the world and its people.

I say all that just to warn you: I will share scripture and speak of spiritual things; not to be a religious bigot or to stuff some papery tract down people’s throats, but to maintain my integrity as an artist…to truly share with you what inspires me and drives my art.

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Engaged!

(as always, you really should watch this video in HD on Vimeo)

Here is a quick little video I made documenting my proposal (at least the part I want to share with you) for marriage to the lovely Ciera Carson (soon to be Ciera Kaspar).

I came the night before and set up everything in the church for the shoot.  The next day we had an all day date planned where we bought the canvas, built the stretcher, stretched the canvas and then had some great friends serve us dinner.  Little did Ciera know that she was served a worm in her soup (payback from the time she fed me a chocolate covered worm).

Here are the 2 strapping lads who helped serve dinner for the engagement

There are a few other fun details that really were an answer to prayer.  When I proposed, I didn’t actually have a ring yet because I had been working on a custom design and my jewler hadn’t finished my creation quite fast enough so I decided to propose with a piece of string.

After building the stretched canvas from scratch and arriving at the church, I told Ciera to pick a verse that we could base our painting on…much to my surprise and delight, she chose Ecclesiastes 4:12 which is the same verse I chose to base her ring design on.  Her choosing this verse was an amazing coincidence because I hadn’t told her anything about the ring or the design for it.

“Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
-Ecclesiastes 4:12

So both her ring, and the painting reflect the concept of “a cord of three strands” and show a weave design.

The film is a combination of stop motion and sped-up camera work using a combination of 3 different cameras:

  • Canon 30D with a Tokina 2.8 11-16mm wide angle lens with a intervalometer
  • Panasonic AF-100 with a couple different prime lenses 50mm 1.4, 100mm 1.8
  • Canon 7D with various prime lenses
  • ARRI light kit
  • Various C-Stands, tripod mounts, scrims, diffusers, flags etc.
I used a bunch of different elements including grain, lens flares, stock footage, overlays, glows, and a couple of Final Cut’s preset filters to get the final results.

 

It was a ton of fun, I’m pleased with the video, but most importantly…she said YES!!!!

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“Battle Cry” by Jennifer Whitmore

I had the awesome opportunity to travel to Nashville and film a good friend and a talented songwriter, Jennifer Whitmore.

After having a pleasant dinner and a cup of delicious coffee with her family, we decided to have a living room recording session.

Her words speak truth and love from our Father above. Listen and be blessed.

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“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind”

Here is a quick project I did to take a few years off of this man’s appearance. By removing blemishes and “healing” the outer appearance of a person, I got the tiniest taste of the weird and awkward things God puts us through in order to transform our minds and our hearts into His likeness. Just as this man submitted his photo to me to Photoshop years of pain and stress away, we as Christians should submit our lives to the Lord, the one who created us, and let Him do his crazy awesome work in our life changing who we are not just on the outside, but on the inside as well. Notice that we don’t have to do anything, just let God do His work…essentially give him permission to push, pull, heal, warp, pluck, trim, burn any part of us that isn’t a reflection of Him (which is the epitome of perfection).

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“Trista” Trailer

I’ve been working hard on pulling together a team of talented people to produce a short film for a local film festival.  We filmed and edited the trailer in one day and were selected as one of the finalist in the director’s division based on our trailer.  I won’t leak the film to you online, but I would at least like to show you the trailer to whet your appetite.

“Trista” will be premiering at the Realife Campus at James River Assembly on November 16, 2011 at 7 pm.
See you there!

 

Trista Trailer from Dancing Fox Films on Vimeo.

Trailer submission for Coming Soon Film Festival

Directed by Christopher Kaspar
Produced by Elana Carson
Assistant Director: Liz Blomenkamp

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Mousebird

Here is a quick little silly composite I put together…aint it cute?

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Kindness Foundation Promo

This is a brief, yet intense promotional video I filmed in Russia. The trip was fun and the team I worked with was great, but even more exciting was the use of the Bible as the foundational curriculum in Russian schools today.  Watch and be amazed at what God is doing in Russia.

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Videoblog: What I’ve Been Painting This Summer

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Portrait of the Day “Andrew”

 

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B&W Portriats

I’m amazed at the technical simplicity and stunning message of a simple black and white portrait.  Here are a few I did with some guys from Focus On The Family.

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Moving to Missouri

I recently got accepted into the Master’s of Studio Art and Theory program at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri.  I’m packing my bags both literally and spiritually as I prepare for a new stage in my life.

More than anything, I’m excited because for the first time in my life I get to create art because that is what I am actually supposed to be doing, rather than what I do when I should be doing something else (like studying).  I’m also excited to be closer to a good friend who goes to school nearby and see how our friendship grows.

As soon as I move to Missouri, I plan to (in order of urgency and importance)

1) Find a long term place to live

2) Get connected with a church nearby

3) Find a men’s Bible study (hopefully with older men)

4) Find a mentor

5) Be a mentor

6) Get a dog (any suggestions for medium size dogs?)

7) Take piano lessons again

8) Paint!

9) Read a ton!

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Triste, triste… triste.

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