Christina Sporrong's heavy metal art

By Genevieve Oswald
Posted 2/13/20

Driving along the West Rim Road you will pass an array of attention-grabbing metal figures rising out of the sagebrush. This art is more than compelling to look at - it demands you take it in, asks you to think a little bit more about the landscape and your perspective.

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Christina Sporrong's heavy metal art

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Driving along the West Rim Road you will pass an array of attention-grabbing metal figures rising out of the sagebrush. This art is more than compelling to look at - it demands you take it in, asks you to think a little bit more about the landscape and your perspective.

What you are passing is the home and studio of local artists and metalworkers Christina Sporrong and Christian Ristow. Sporrong is known for her large-scale metal sculpture and the Women's Welding Workshops she teaches. She has been teaching these workshops for as long as she has lived in Taos. Teaching metalwork, demystifying it while simultaneously empowering women - these are her many passions and quality contributions to our town.

Sporrong and her art came to the Taos mesa decades ago. It was in the late 1990s that she began forging her creative vision into the desert beneath the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Maybe it is because the sculptures are created in such an environment that her art exposes itself most beautifully in the muted colors of desert and dust. Or maybe it's that Sporrong lives close to nature and her art reflects the nature of her own being - sparse, alive, sharp, graceful, beautifully engineered, elegant and full of heat and mystery.

Whatever it is, it works, and works well. But do not be fooled by some notion that Sporrong is only of the desert. She is more. Worldly, mutable to what life demands, always on the move, always questioning, always somewhere in the world doing something interesting - and more often than not that means doing something interesting here in Taos.

Sporrong and Ristow, her partner in most things, share their lives with exquisite grace. Home, workspace, creative pursuits, family time and raising their son are all done in a spirit of partnership. Working on the scale that they do means trading off is inevitable. You can only fit one larger-than-life robot or gigantic tarantula into a giant warehouse metal shop at a time, or a family for that matter.

And so, they take turns. Full-time artists, both have long and impressive résumés, and both have been commissioned to make numerous large-scale sculptures for art and music festivals, museum shows and more. Sometimes those sculptures come to find their permanent resting place in that sculpture garden at their family home, but more and more their art is landing in permanent installation locations. Like the previously mentioned robot and the tarantula which now reside outside Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, his and hers respectively.

While their lives dovetail so gracefully the couple are also individuals and deserve to be recognized as such. In the Taos community especially, Sporrong has contributed so significantly that one can feel her creative touch everywhere you go. Literally. It is likely you have put your hands on a railing, door or gate forged in her shop. Perhaps you enjoyed watching her as a performing artist, a director or a community organizer. Maybe you participated in one of many events she has had her hand in from Bike Rodeo's to The Paseo and more. Sporrong has dedicated her life to art and more significantly, for over two decades, has dedicated herself to producing performance and installation art in Taos.

Last year Sporrong was commissioned to do another piece for Burning Man, a piece she dubbed the "Flybrary." Because both she and Ristow work on such a large scale, the start of new project means it's time to bring in help. A call goes out across their network of metal-sculpting colleagues and friends and people show up. There are old faces and new faces too. Meeting and connecting with new metalworkers during the construction of the "Flybrary" stirred Sporrong, rousing a desire to connect the metalworking community in Taos.

Sporrong recalled hearing of a Full Moon Artist Salon held by Mabel Dodge Lujan in the days of D.H. Lawrence and Georgia O'Keefe, and was inspired to host what she dubbed the "Iron Moon Salon" on the final full moon of last year, Dec. 12. An open invitation to the metalworking community went out to "come share ideas and skills over a full moon and a hot forge." Ten to 12 local artists participated, men and women, novice and experienced, and as is apropos for this group of artists they got "shoppy in the shop." Sporrong plans to host another "Iron Moon Salon" this spring with the hopes the salon will continue, being hosted semiannually by alternating hosts in multiple shops. No dates have been set as of this time.

In the interim, women who are interested in learning more about welding can register for her Women's Welding Workshop (see sidebar) or visit spitfireforge.com

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