Art of Precision: The Engineered Sculpture of Christopher Bathgate Exhibit Opens at NMIH

The National Museum of Industrial History (NMIH) is excited to announce its latest exhibit, Art of Precision: The Engineered Sculpture of Christopher Bathgate, will open to the public this Saturday, January 11th.  Coinciding with the opening will be a presentation by the artist about his work, process, and vision at 2pm.

From woodturning and metal work to glassblowing and ceramics, industrial processes have always found their way into the production of fine art. NMIH is pleased to exhibit the selected works of Christopher Bathgate, a self-trained machinist employing handmade tools, automated CNC milling machines and metal lathes to create complex artistic expressions inspired by industry. Playing with the tension between aesthetic vs. utility, form vs. function, and industrial vs. handmade, Bathgate’s inter-disciplinary work lies at the intersection of art, craft, and design. These pieces serve as an example of how computer-mediated fabrication may bridge the divide between art, craft, and industrial production in the Digital Age.

“Mr. Bathgate’s beautiful sculptures provoke visitors to consider industry past and present,” said Kara Mohsinger, President and CEO of the museum.  “The evolution from the 19th century use of manual lathes such as those on display in our exhibits to the use of modern day programmable computerized machinery to make industrial fabrication possible is a historically significant transition in our history.”

Featuring over 20 of his sculptures, the exhibit provides a new context of the intersection of art and industry.  “Artists have a long history of adopting obsolete processes and equipment for use as creative mediums. Artists have been instrumental in preserving first-hand knowledge of many different crafts going back centuries.” said Mr. Bathgate. “Exhibiting a collection of machined metal sculptures in a museum with such a wonderful collection of antique machines is an excellent way to highlight the relationship that the creative arts have always had with industry.”

In addition to the artist’s talk this Saturday, NMIH has two programs in store during which visitors can learn more about the industrial design and processes that go into creating sculptures like Mr. Bathgate’s.  The first, on February 23rd at 2pm, is titled, “How Precise Can You Get?”  Visitors will learn about the manual machining tools on display in the museum’s Centennial gallery and then try their hand at creating precision surfaces themselves.  This program is $5 in addition to museum admission.  The second, on March 22nd at 2pm, will feature Structural Design Staff Supervisor Betsy Faust of Barry Isett & Associates.  Her “How It Works: Computer Aided Design” presentation will detail how modern computing has allowed artists like Mr. Bathgate and engineering firms like hers to revolutionize everything from sculpture to contemporary construction.

The National Museum of Industrial History’s Art of Precision: The Engineered Sculpture of Christopher Bathgate exhibit is on view January 11th through May 31st.

About NMIH
A Smithsonian Institution-affiliate, the National Museum of Industrial History is dedicated to preserving America’s rich industrial heritage. Housed in an 18,000-square-foot, 100-year-old former Bethlehem Steel facility on the largest private brownfield in America, the Museum is home to exciting exhibits, engaging programs and amazing history.  Learn more at nmih.org

About Sculptor Chris Bathgate
Baltimore-based artist Chris Bathgate is a self-trained machinist. He utilizes handmade tools and automated CNC (computer numerical control) milling and drilling machines to create precisely-crafted elements that assemble into complex sculptures. Machining is his method of artistic expression. He has spent more than fifteen years adapting metalworking machinery from salvaged and repurposed equipment. Bathgate’s aesthetic considerations stem from the very machines that he uses to create his sculptures. Each piece that he makes is informed by the one it is preceded by, and he modifies his machinery accordingly—not for improved practical function but for the aesthetic developments that can be produced.  More about his work and process can be found at chrisbathgate.com

Media Contact:
Glenn Koehler
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
National Museum of Industrial History
gkoehler@nmih.org

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