Chris Watts was born in London, England in 1947. When he was five years old, his family moved back to the West Country to be closer to his Cornish relatives. He grew up in Plymouth and eventually started his foundation studies at Plymouth College of Art. He was accepted at the University of London, Goldsmith’s College School of Art, where he completed his undergraduate degree in fine art. In 1969 he was invited to join the graduate program at Ohio University and was awarded a MFA degree in 1971.
Following two years on the faculty at the University of Rhode Island, he returned to the United Kingdom with his life partner Karen Larson. After five years living in Devon, exhibiting in Oxford, Newcastle and London, teaching at Gloucestershire College of Art, Trent Polytechnic School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Arts, Chris moved back to the USA in 1978 to be the Chair of the Art Department at Cornish College of Art in Seattle. His numerical artwork was exhibited widely in the Northwest including the Henry Gallery, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle Art Museum and the Traver Gallery. In 1984 he accepted an administrative and teaching position in the Art Department at Middle Tennessee State University. His work was exhibited widely in the Mid South including shows in Nashville, Knoxville, Cincinnati, and was represented by the Cumberland Gallery in Nashville. In 1988 the opportunity to return to the Northwest presented itself and Chris returned to Washington State. He served as Chair and Professor in the Art Department at Washington State University for many years, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 2015. During this period his work was represented by the Lorinda Knight Gallery, Spokane, Linda Farris Gallery, Seattle, ADA Gallery, Richmond and exhibited widely throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia, Virginia, New York and back to his roots in the United Kingdom.
Chris Watts’ work represents a long-term interest in patterning, order and to a certain degree spiritual or esoteric ideas. His images use numbers to explore location and sequential relationships often based on spiral, diagonal and horizontal forms. Throughout his career he has recognized the influence that artists from the Constructionist, Systems, Structurist, Minimalist and Conceptual Art movements have had on his work. Viewers often become involved in the process of uncovering how his images are formed and he is very interested in exploring those deeper contemplative moments where the viewer’s thoughts drift inward—perhaps into their own interpretation as to the place that patterns of all types have on our experience. In an effort to broaden the influence that order, placement, and patterning have had on the evolution of his inquiries, Chris takes interest in subjects such as Bronze Age stone monuments, spirals and mazes, Pythagoras, counting processes, scientific structures, bell ringing, Theosophy, sound, the geometrical tradition in art, and of course pattern.
His work has been exhibited widely throughout the USA and Europe and is included in the following permanent collections: Mondriaanhuis Museum, Netherlands, Arts Council of Great Britain, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg, Washington State Arts Commission, Seattle Arts Commission, Kelowna Art Gallery, BC, Canada, Eastern Washington University/Spokane Center and Washington State University, Museum of Art.