Dare to be Different: Christopher McCarthyFriday, January 21, 2011 By Ally Hellenga
In the big picture, some people tend to follow the status quo and simply fade into the background. However, a few students have enough self-confidence to dare to be different. Christopher McCarthy, senior, is not one to be part of the background. He is in charge of his own picture--literally. "I have always enjoyed drawing as long as I can remember, regardless the subject matter. The actual art of rendering or creating was a constant diversion for me," McCarthy said. Art has always been a dominate part of McCarthy’s life and he shares his unique skills with others. "I remember when we were younger he would give me drawing lessons for five bucks an hour; it was just hours of watching him draw," Matt McCarthy, Chris’s brother and freshman, said. McCarthy began his art career sketching using charcoal as his chief medium. In the past year, oil paints have replaced the charcoal. As well as oil paints, McCarthy creates works of art with conte, acrylics, spray paint, monotype printing and screen-printing. Robert Putnam, art teacher, explains that every once in a while a student comes into the art program with a remarkable gift. This gift soon manifests itself through the work the student produces. "Chris is one who seeks all knowledge and swims through life with his mouth wide open swallowing all that he sees, hears and touches," Putnam said. Putnam has witnessed McCarthy’s talent first hand and seeing such talent allows both individuals to share their own artistic views. "Chris causes me, as his art teacher, to confront all of the higher levels of thoughts, theories, techniques and issues in the visual arts and even causes me to take a hard look at my own beliefs and truths about myself as an artist," Putnam said. McCarthy says many different vivid pictures come to mind to make up a single piece of art. Such factors include the beach in September, the first chapter of Ulysses, Picasso's Garçon à la Pipe and the album Embryonic by The Flaming Lips. This list of inspiration is constantly changing with each new painting on which Christopher McCarthy embarks on. "Those ingredients viewed outside of the work share some incomprehensible bond that makes sense to absolutely no one, me included. It comes down to however I happen to react to whatever I'm seeing, hearing, smelling or whatever else I feel," McCarthy said. According to McCarthy, inspiration can be whatever one wants; it just depends on attraction toward different subjects and the attitude one takes from the experience. "I tend to think of inspiration more as tangible work than some flighty magical concept. It is all about the capacity to react to things clearly and directly," McCarthy said. As an inspiring artist, he is still exploring various subjects to base works on such as allegorical and surrealistic paintings, beach scenery and portraiture. "Chris is young and still searching for his complete artistic voice, and yet his work already stands as a testament for all to see," Putnam said. Nevertheless, McCarthy still would like to experiment with classical subject matter like mythology depictions, funerary portraits, still life and religious scenes. "Such classical templates have been established as equally viable vehicles of expression for their underlying themes," McCarthy said. McCarthy shows his remarkable talent in the arts by constantly producing unique works of art which showcase his own artistic voice. "He is a very unique individual who holds immense potential for the future, and I am sure he will set standards of excellence in the arts for which his artistic peers will strive towards for many years to come," Putnam said. McCarthy’s siblings are supportive of his art passions as well. "My brother is determined, passionate and talented. His work astounds me, and his drive is going to make him a very successful artist," Erin McCarthy, junior, said. "He's really progressed in the past years and I know he'll go far with this; he's the triple threat: an amazing painter, an awesome sketch artist and a great person," Matt McCarthy said. McCarthy ended with the following thankful words: "Both art teachers at Etowah [Putnam and Joshua Saye] have been of incredible importance to my learning and development since sophomore year when I took my first art class. I can’t see myself working on the same level today without them. I truly consider myself lucky," McCarthy said.