A Material Life
W. Chester Old was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1956 and was raised on a horse farm for show horses. Old states "As a child on a large farm back then there was a lot of junk laying around in the old chicken house and small outbuildings like the old smoke house that no one had used in years. We even had our own junkyard filled with old washing machines, bikes, tire innertubes...all rusting away. I would collect these things, you know, bits and pieces of things, and assemble them into sculpture, lamps, tables, pictures, etc." Materials, all sorts, have always played a prominent role in his work. Through the marriage of contrasting materials Old creates a visual or metaphorical language, a pun and/or a serious and quite often a personal statement. "They (materials) have been a love of mine starting in childhood and evident throughout my career in my functional designs, architecture, sculptural pieces and art installations/environments. I try to approach different materials in an unconventional way to tell a story."
Old has an extensive knowledge and background in many media including clay, metal work, mixed media, design, architecture, dance and movement, to name a few.
The Atlanta native graduated from The Galloway School with honors in art. He went on to study ceramics and printmaking at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina from 1974 to 1977. During that time he started his own studio of ceramic design at the age of 19 and at 20 was published and showing his work across the US and Canada. After returning to Atlanta he received his B.F.A. from the Atlanta College of Art in 1983, again with honors. He then started a metalwork design studio and began exhibiting his work in major cities in the US.
From 1999 to 2003 he and his partner collaborated on a house design/build project based on the Modernist ideals. In 2005 Old went back to his earlier uncompleted mixed media concepts he had started in college.
Old has received such prestigious awards as the American Crafts Award for a mirror design, 1991; a City of Atlanta Bureau of Cultural Affairs solo exhibition grant, 1983; as well as an artist-in-residence grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation, 1979. In 2007 he was commissioned by Fulton County to create eight lighting sculpture designs for the Southwest Center for the Arts theater. He has been on numerous television shows and in publications and has been a juror numerous times for the American Crafts Council from 1998 to 2008 . His work has been shown at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Mint Museum 1983 Archetype Gallery, NYC, 1992-1995, Southeast Center for Contemporary Art, 1979, and many more.
Old is currently serving on the board of Hambidge Center for the Arts (www.hambidge.org). He is dividing his time between Atlanta, GA and Dominical, Costa Rica (www.VistasInfinitas.com).