b. 1969 Erie, Pennsylvania, USA
1995 MFA Mills College, Oakland
1991 BFA Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia
Lives and works in New York
Childhood memories inspire Jim Christensen. His refined graphite drawings contain recurrent images mined from the artist’s past. A central motif is his work is the alligator. Perhaps inspired by Christensen’s experience as a young boy in southern California, the alligator figures prominently as a symbol of the unknown. The alligator is an uneasy and ambiguous presence that has a mythical and portentous authority. Meticulously rendered reptiles are seen emerging from depths of inky blackness. Christensen juxtaposes these figurative representations with optical geometrical patterns. He refers to these abstractions as “visual disturbances.” They interrupt a straightforward reading of the image, creating both a visual, and arguably, psychological disturbance.
Christensen is also celebrated for his sculptural work. The artist was asked to exhibit in the inaugural exhibition of the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), California in 2007. His installation Ideal Home (Under Construction) was created using sugar pine and basswood. The artist replicated his first three childhood homes in detailed scale models. The models were stacked on top of each other, creating an impressive structure measuring 102 3/8" x 72 3/8" x 92": a three-dimensional juxtaposition of memories.
Christensen has shown extensively in the California region including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco and the Berkeley Art Museum, California. He is the recipient of a Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation (2003) and the Gerbode Foundation Museum Purchase Award (2002). His work can be found in the permanent collection of the de Young Museum, San Francisco.