Chris Oatey received a BS in cartography from the University of Colorado, Boulder and an MFA from Otis College of Art and Design. He has had numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the US including at David B. Smith Gallery in Denver and CB1 Gallery in Los Angeles. Other recent shows include: Abundant, Bountiful, and Beautiful at the Long Beach Museum of Art and Paperworks at the Craft and Folk Art Museum Los Angeles (CAFAM). He is a grant recipient of The Durfee Foundation, the Ucross Foundation, and was the recipient of the Friends of Contemporary Art + Photography Prize from the New Mexico Museum of Art.
Oatey’s 25 works included in the Octopus Initiative are from a single series, View from Gomez Peak, Louderback Hoffmann. This series originated from the artist’s close study of 19th century engravings created as part of the Mexican Boundary Survey—the results of which marked the US-Mexico border after the Treaty of Guadalupe in 1848. The engravings are based on plein-air sketches made by a team of surveyors who found themselves challenged by how to represent such a vast and geographically diverse expanse of land. Oatey’s works evoke a moment when the future of a region was completely unwritten. Oatey’s carbon drawings connect the past to the present as they address ideas around national identity, division, and access—issues that remain as pressing today as they were two centuries ago.