Chris McGinnis draws inspiration from America’s industrial story and notions of progress understood through the lens of technology, social economics, and cultural identity. His recent work balances playful and idealized approaches to realism against a backdrop of American landscape nationalism often exemplified in aspects of twentieth century heavy industry. His paintings often rely on an absurd system of logic governing elements within each piece as well as the relationships between separate works. Raised in Southwestern Pennsylvania, Chris’ work channels curious and romantic depictions of regional industry derived from an understanding of how industrialized society has influenced a sense of what it means to be American.
"I grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania during the waning years of America’s post-war industrial paradigm. Shortly after my birth in 1980 the steel mills closed and the coal industry consolidated. Small towns in Southwestern Pennsylvania braced for an economic winter from which many communities have yet to emerge. As a child I developed romantic notions of America’s industrial past that were typified for me, by the ruins of a 19th century tannery located near my family cabin in Elk County Pennsylvania. Now hidden amongst the dense overgrowth, these ruins were the backdrops for my childhood reveries, where rectangular mounds of dirt and moss now supplant the solid railroad ties that once transported hides to and from that tannery. I remember searching with my siblings for the gnarled iron spikes still embedded in those mounds."
Chris McGinnis is a visual artist, arts leader, husband and father of two crazy girls living in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He has created projects for the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education and SPACE Pittsburgh among many others. He is represented by Zynka Gallery in Pittsburgh. His artwork has been exhibited widely, with more than twelve solo exhibitions and over fifty group exhibitions in recent years. As the founding Director of Rivers of Steel Arts, he leads a dedicated team of creatives working to re-imagine Pittsburgh’s urban-industrial legacy through the lens of visual art and placemaking. As an artist Chris draws inspiration from America’s industrial story and notions of progress understood through the lens of technology, social economics, and cultural identity.