Meet Christopher Outten: From Graduate to Grad Student

With SFU's 2024 June Convocation just around the corner, and the ceremony for the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology (our institutional home at SFU) on Friday, June 14, it's also time to reach out and talk to a soon-to-be graduate. We're grateful that visual art student Chris Outten, whose work was included in Look Both Ways, the 2024 BFA Graduating Exhibition that ran April 18 – May 4 at the Audain Gallery, took the time to answer our questions. And as we talk about here, we're also looking forward to seeing Chris in our MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts program, starting this September.

Please meet Christopher Outten!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm an international student from the Island of Nassau in The Bahamas. I have a love for ancient history, animals, and the unknown. I often draw inspiration for my artworks from one of these elements. Being in BC and adjusting to the environment, people, and media has given me a change in perspective and has allowed myself and the work I produce to transform.

How did you end up choosing the SCA for your BFA?

I was looking for universities within Canada that both accepted my credits from my Associates degree and offered a BFA. I also had an interest in anthropology at that time and SFU offered that, as well, making it a prime destination for me to attend, as opposed to the other schools that offered the degree.

How was your time at the SCA?

My time within the SCA has been impactful on my life and world views. I've learnt so much from each professor and their teaching styles.  

Any memorable stories about your BFA experience?

Going out and seeing professors being party goers has been delightful to witness. "They're people too!"

Please share about your work in Look Both Ways.

My work in the graduating exhibition delved into people of colour being in spaces they feel unwelcome in. The idea for this work stemmed from conversations I've had with another student in the SCA who raised similar sentiments in regards to prejudice within Canada. The face of the sculpture is casted from Seyi, the student, who the dialogue began with.

We're excited that you're coming back for the MFA program! What did you propose for your work in your application?

I'm excited to be returning and developing my craft a bit further. For my MFA, I proposed the idea of an alter ego/character that encompases the frustations that everyone has. There will be paintings, sculpture, and even performance related to this idea.

What made you want to stay with us for your MFA?

Being a transfer student, I was able to enter the BFA program in my third year. This tremendously took away from the time I had when exploring disciplines and tutelage from the other professors in the SCA. I feel as if there is so much more to learn from them moving forward into the MFA program. I have been exposed to so much more now that I have witnessed the other programs' showcases. These other mediums have reignited an interest in learning what else I can explore with my art.  

Beyond getting ready to return for your MFA, what are you working on now?

Currently I am experimenting with oil paints and different glazing techniques. I'm also working on my own physicality as I believe this will be relevant to the performance aspect of my practice moving forward.

What advice might you give to incoming SCA students?

The program is here to contribute to the progression of your artistic passions. Whatever discipline you find yourself in within the SCA, there will be feedback to aid in the evolution of your practice. The best advice I can give is to learn how to take feedback. Sometimes our ego's view any criticism as an attack against our art. Conversation about the work is needed to evolve and there will be lots of that.

Thanks very much, Chris!

June 06, 2024