back   |   home   |   next
international drawing annual 9 exhibition-in-print
online resource

Chris LaPorte
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Aquinas College, Associate Professor of Art

detail image


Heartbeat, drumbeat, drum line, lifeline, timeline…..  


In ancient mythology, The Fates were responsible to create, weave, and cut the thread of each life.  It was a metaphor for the scope of one's existence.   A beginning, a middle, and an end.  And yet, when the life is cut, the story of that life, or the memory of what was woven from that thread, endures.   While a loved one is gone, the memory of them lives on.  Their legacy continues by those who remain.

With City Band, I attempt to create a visual narrative that plays on the idea of one's life equating to lines, physical ones and metaphorical ones.   

It is a drawing of my grandfather, Virgil LaPorte, and his high school band mates from 1925.  These adolescents are very likely deceased now.  City Band is an examination of those lives as revealed and interpreted through faces and postures.   Those in the drawing are young, fourteen to eighteen, most likely.  They are in the murky middle of life between childhood and adulthood.  Did they think about the scope of their life, their future, when they stood in the gymnasium in uniform?  Would each of them go on to live extraordinary lives?  Were they spending their days trying to just make it through the trials of high school?  What might they tell us now?   

Through City Band I hope to create a work that transforms and endures.  The inspiration for the drawing came from an 8" x 10" photograph from my mother's family archive.  The reference, while in good condition, exists as something small and old, an antique from long ago and far away, cold and distant.  By reconstructing the image, I endeavor to make an object that lives in our space.  By adding my experience and effort I attempt to transform the picture into something present and living, in our time and space, warm and near, with all lines revealed and current.

The drawing is made up of countless pencil lines.  Their organization creates the forms, illusionary space, and expressions.  Each line that I drew took time, the whole drawing taking almost a year to complete.   While the photo is certainly the inspiration for the artwork, I must call on the twenty years of drawing from life to round out the forms, fill in the details, and turn blank expression into personality.  It is also my story, my legacy….

I am Virgil LaPorte's grandson.  I remember playing music with him at the piano as a child.  Music and entertaining are things we shared.  I was eighteen when he died—about the same age he is depicted in the drawing.  I wish to create a common thread with his history and mine, physically weave those lines together with a pencil, and resolve that composition into something that endures.

A visual timeline, lifeline, drum line, drumbeat, heartbeat…  





born: 1973, Bay City, Michigan


Aquinas College, BFA, 1996
LaCoste Ecole des beaux arts, BFA, 1996
New York Academy of Art, MFA, 1999

selected awards/honors

Juror's Award, Drawing Discourse, UNC Asheville, 2013
Juror's Award, Festival of the Arts Regional Art Exhibition, 2013
Top 10, ArtPrize, 2012
Grand Prize, ArtPrize, 2010

selected publications

Il Rebubblica, webpage, 2012
Daily Mail, webpage, 2012
This is Colossal, blog, 2012
Grand Rapids Magazine, Dec 2010, Pages 30-31

selected solo or two-person exhibits

Open Studio, Hall Street Atelier, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2011
Recent Work, Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2005
LaPorte/Gannon, Dreese Fine Art, Spring Lake, Michigan, 2003
Origins Exposed, Studio 23, Bay City, Michigan, 2002

selected group shows

Drawing Discourse, UNC Asheville, North Carolina, 2014
American Art Today:  Figures, Bascom Center of Art, Highlands, North Carolina, 2013
Drawing Discourse, UNC Asheville, North Carolina, 2013
ArtPrize, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2012

Copyright © Manifest Press