In 2004 and 2005 I was awarded an Affiliate Artist fellowship at the Headlands Center for the Arts. For 1½ years, I adopted a World War 1-era bowling ally as my studio. During my time there I integrated many site-specific cut paper installations into the peculiar nooks of my unconventional studio. I also curated a group exhibition, “Invasive Species” where I brashly scrolled fluorescent pink lettering (to the relief on park officials, made of removable paper tape) across my historic studio building. Artists included Andy Hope, Laurel Roth Hope, Dorsey Dunn, Tom Fowler, Ty Tripoli, Ken Griswa, Rebecca Miller, and Alison Pebworth.
Personal Essay regarding my experiences of HCA
I draw with a knife. I create vast works of cut paper by delineating my perceptions of the world directly into art. The process is direct and intuitive, one without excessive premeditation or exacting precision. Landscapes emerge based on my direct observations, recent memories, and through the influences of subconscious vagaries.
I recently moved my studio from San Francisco’s urban Mission District to the pastoral Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin County. I commute daily by motorcycle, out of the city, over the Golden Gate Bridge, through the tunnel, into the Headlands. I occupy a World War I-era army-barracks gymnasium that still has a working bowling alley. My new space has been in slow decay since it was de-commissioned in the early 1970’s. The surfaces are worn and cracked. There is no running water. All is weathered to aged patina. This is a place where the constant battle between nature and human progress becomes evident. I walk past my front door to a meandering path leading to the ocean. Dense walls of vegetation line the trail that brings me to an obsolete concrete army bunker. Around its cave entrance, decades of fern and thorny blackberry pile high, overflowing, suspended in space. Small creatures rattle the thicket, and a family of black-tailed deer passes slowly while chewing the lichen from exposed rocks. A ceiling of billowing fog descends, brushing the tops of towering eucalyptus trees. I progress cautiously, deliberately. I spot day-hikers on an adjacent ridge; their muted laughter reverberates. All is touching, echoing.
–Chris Natrop, 2005