Abstract, kinetic, figurative and functional pieces are all in the repertoire of Minnesota metal artist Tom Christiansen. At work in his North Shore foundry, Tom crafts everything from cast bronze sculpture – commissioned to pair with a piece by the late master Paul Granlund – to flip-tailed fish coat hooks cut from steel. In his “lost cardboard” series of figures cast from corrugated forms, he brings an element of humor to a traditionally weighty artform.
Tom became interested in metal as a kid while witnessing his uncle’s work repairing implements in rural Nebraska. “It helped that it was kind of scary and you had to wear special stuff to do it,” he explains. Tom later attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and graduated with a BFA in sculpture from the University of Minnesota. He cites Granlund and sculptor Wayne Potratz as important early influences.
A full-time artist since 1986, Tom headed north from the Twin Cities in 1994 to establish Last Chance Fabricating at Lutsen, MN. Since then, he has completed commissions for garden installations, architectural elements, fountains, lighting fixtures, furniture and public sculpture.
“A theme runs through all aspects of my work; I remain true to the material and I honor the process,” states Tom. “Where appropriate, I leave tool marks, welds and the raw material exposed which leaves a visual narrative of the production process. It is my belief we are separated too much in our modern world from the industrial activity of making objects by hand. I want to bring that tactile, robust energy back into our lives.”