Chris Watts is an abstract painter and mixed-media artist whose work seeks to revise, interrogate, and re-examine social and personal narratives through the transfiguration of painting, drawing, video, and installations. This re-examination also seeks to create a project of disruption. Currently, these projects exist as representations of windows as switches into another, layered, assemblage of spaces where the distinction between what is real and what is represented is thoroughly confused.
Studying and archiving public surveillance, police body cams, and pedestrian iphone footage led to the creation of his “The Blahk on Blahk on Blak” series. The transparent paintings were made for, and to be displayed only on black walls. This intent is to create another dimension to these already layered constructs and to create realities that only reveal themselves in blackness. Two of his works in this series,  Respect the boundaries (Throne of Elijah) and I am speaking (Kingdom of Elijah) , memorialize 23-year-old Elijah McClain who was unarmed when he was murdered at the hands of Aurora Colorado Police and first responders. These works endeavour to privilege the figure and reexamine our relationship to surface. The work alters how we think about the effects and materiality of racialized skin on display.
Chris Watts was born in High Point, North Carolina. He attended the MFA program at Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT, after graduating from the College of Arts and Architecture, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC, and the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Wroclaw, PL. Watts has held various artist residencies, among them the Marek Maria Pienkowski Foundation, Chelm, PL; McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Charlotte, NC; the Art & Law Fellowship Program, at Cornell University Art Architecture Planning, New York, NY; the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program, New York, NY; and, the 2022-2023 Soros Justice Fellowship Program. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. He is a featured artist in the documentary film, The Art of Making It, directed by Kelcey Edwards, and from the Emmy-nominated producer Debi Wisch (The Price of Everything). The film will have its world premiere at the 2021 Hamptons International Film Festival. Watts shares his time between New York and North Carolina.