Chris Millette – Man of the Imagination

July 23rd, 2011  |  by Published in featured, featured artists


I first met Northampton-raised painter, sculptor, printmaker and general handyman Chris Millette last spring, when we teamed up to create a cave-paint-glitter-themed dance party in the Dynamite Space.  About a week after that (or maybe it was before, I don’t remember) we enacted a Performance Painting in APE for Jamie Kent’s CD release party, a crazy happening that involved us painting on a giant wooden puzzle-type structure in front of an audience and immediately taking it apart and handing out the pieces.  The few weeks of preparing for and enacting those two events were full of hard work, tons of creative energy, and an extreme amount of fun.

Chris and I shared a studio space last summer and have worked on a couple other projects since then, the most recent being a huge mural in his basement that comes up the stairs and wraps around the wall.  I continue to be impressed with and inspired by Chris’ can-and-will-do attitude and his ability to create beautiful, imposing works of art out of all kinds of materials.


What are you trying to communicate or explore in your work?

I make things that I want to see in the world. I’ve always thought about my artwork as an extension of my imagination. In my personal philosophy I believe that the world around us is little more than a projection of our thoughts. Through the simple acts of looking, imagining, thinking and communicating we are building the world around us. Every day – every moment – we are all involved in the artistic process of shaping our reality.

I try and build this reality as responsibly as I can.


Where were you when you created one of your favorite works?

I was living and working at an organic farm outside of Cortona, Italy, when I made the ‘WWOOFer Wagon”. I had been volunteering through the WWOOF organization (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). The owner of the farm asked if some friends and I would be willing to salvage an old horse cart that was rotting in a garden bed. After lifting it out of the earth we got very excited about the object as an artifact, and decided to bring it back to life. After weeks of sawing and salvaging, thatching and trimming, upholstering and upcycling, the ‘WWOOFer Wagon’ was born!
What excited me most about this project was the opportunity to make something with a purpose. The ‘wagon’ was just large enough for a mattress, with a small porch out front facing the gorgeous Tuscan landscape, and a path that led down to a spring-fed bathtub where I washed every day. It became my home. It was a truly magical experience to live and thrive within one of my own sculptures.

How do you see your art in relation to cultivating community and how does community affect the work you make?

I often find myself making very large – or very public – work. This reflects my philosophy that I explained above: if my work is going to have an impact on the world, people other than myself need to see it. It is important to me that people respond to my work. I don’t quite care how, and it doesn’t matter whether or not I agree with their response. I just want people to think about what I’ve made, with the hope that it will inspire or awaken something new within them.



What is your spirit animal?

People have said that I would be either an otter or a coyote if I were an animal. Personally, I find myself more akin to the horned beasts of this world. Maybe it’s because I’m a Capricorn but probably it’s just because horns are really cool.



What spaces in Northampton are you most curious to see the inside of or to make work in?

I’m excited to make work in the underutilized or overlooked spaces of town. More specifically, I would like to make sculptures and interventions in the woods and fields, or in areas where the natural environment meets the built environment (e.g. bridges, abandoned lots, underpasses, etc).
In August I will be installing a sculpture on the grounds of Park Hill Orchards in Easthampton as part of the ‘Art in the Orchard’ event. Details on this can be found here:


What are some strategies you use to sustain your creative practice while living in Northampton?

Much to the detriment of my financial situation, I maintain a studio in Florence, in the Arts & Industry building. Dollar bills aside, having this studio is a tremendous factor in terms of sustaining my creative practice. Not only does it provide a space where I can make work of any size, it is also hugely important to me to have a working studio that is outside of my living space.
I have also found Northampton’s network of young, working artists to be incredibly inspirational. More than anything else, talking to these friends provides the kick-in-the-pants that I often need to get going!



What 5 items do you always carry with you?

1. Knife
2. Bandana/Rag
3. Keys to my kingdoms
4. My uncle’s belt
5. A playful practicality

You can see more of Chris’ work at

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