This work began deep in the Amazon Rainforest…

…where I was cured by native healers several years ago. Their ghastly plant brew administered night after night contained the most powerful visionary substances known to man, producing experiences from the sublime to the utterly terrifying. Visions swarmed the jungle’s screaming night as I sat gaping goggle-eyed, vomit drool hanging from my lip, the shaman’s song blasting my mind apart, and he wasn’t a man at all but an enormously serpentine undulation studded with a thousand kaleidoscopic eyes!

One vision in particular was like a YouTube tutorial from some bizarre alternate universe: timeless hands using ancient technique to form a wooden bowl, revealing gorgeous textures, as the faces of primordial entities morphed and twisted through legions of iterations.

I now use this technique to record these visions.

Thank you,

Chris

Media Coverage

Buzzfeed interview

Ayahuasca Visions Showed Artist An Ancient Woodworking Technique That He Is Now Using To Produce Unique Wood Sculptures

Chris  — your work is amazing —  How did you end up being interested in Ayahuasca?

Someone loaned me Narby’s book, The Cosmic Serpent, and I was hooked. I began researching, watching documentaries, and became singularly obsessed to the exclusion of all else which seems to be quite a common experience. Of course, I later learned that this was the medicine calling to me.

Did you have any experience with other psychedelics before?

When I was much younger, beginning as a teenager, who didn’t? While such psychedelic trips can do nothing other than shape our conceptions of reality and reveal basic truths, without the expertise of dedicated practitioners, there’s just so much wasted potential and blind floundering. We wonder what may have been had we discovered curanderismo much earlier, no?

Can you please describe in as much detail as you can tell to the public what happened in the ceremony that triggered your new woodworking technique?

Visions swarmed the jungle’s screaming night as I sat gaping goggle-eyed, vomit drool hanging from my lip, the Shipibo curandero blasting my mind apart with song, and he wasn’t a man at all but an enormously serpentine undulation studded with a thousand kaleidoscopic eyes! Having heard that the snakes will do our bidding and having come to deadroads in life, I wiped my chin, collected my courage, and ordered that cosmic worm to reveal my path.

I was rewarded with a vision like a YouTube tutorial from some bizarre alternate universe. I saw human hands out of time immemorial shape a wooden bowl using an ancient technique, revealing gorgeous textures, as the faces of primordial entities morphed and twisted through the fractal ooze.

I’m always breathless watching the transformation. Honestly, my carving is extremely rough and amateurish, but this technique yields amazing work. It’s true, I do absolutely amazing work — at least it absolutely amazes me — but I can’t really take credit for it, being but a tool myself.

To your knowledge, is anyone using a similar technique today? What about in the past?

Sure, this technique was used for millennia, but I’ve looked and looked and haven’t seen anything like it. The #1 question I get when people see the work in person is, “What are they made of?” Having never seen wood that looks like this before, people assume it’s ceramic or some cast material, even plastic! Given that neither I nor anyone else I’ve talked to has seen anything like it, I think I’ll keep it that way for a while.

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“…ridiculously in love with my partner,
HoYee Wong…”  –Chris Isner

Chris Isner CV

I vaguely remember pulling blue crabs
From a vast mangrove lagoon
With a rotten chicken leg on a string
Under the watchful green gaze of crocodiles
Remembering the teeth of their grandfathers
Lording over this land for all time
Until the day their lunatic gods
Hurled down a mighty chunk of heaven
And everything vanished in a white-hot flash
Your birth and mine
The kiss of the scorpion reaping worlds
As the lagoon launches her half-million flamingos
Raucous squadrons burning vermillion for the rising sun
Sucking them back in again every evening
Where orchids smell like cocoa butter
Geckos sing like birds
Birds fly backwards over the sea
Light and heat and desiccation on a beaten shore
Where even cacti cannot stand
But slither over the sands
Inching up tall bush skeletons
Tangled mass
Heavy
Noses drooping back down towards the ground
Like ancient fat worms dying under the sun
Yet lively raising white trumpets to the moon
Playing their fragrance to a night-crawling world
Where all eyes glow but mine
Where the scorpion awaits the touch of a fool
Who found a little conch shell
All gleaming brown and cream and sunrise orange
Still stinking of its death
A grief trap to roll one’s tears into
Because the stink of death traps grief
So that one day
When the stink of death fades away
So too will grief
A hollow log lapped in the surf
Riddled with woodpecker holes
Delightfully spouting with every surge
Riding it home to make a fountain
A fool caught in a trap set just for him
She emerges wet and amorous
To give a little kiss
She carries a needle
Needles carry liquid bliss
Neurotoxins
Dreams
The gift of poetry as mnemonic hedge
Against chronic blunt force head trauma
Lest the mind dissolves
Like the beachcomber dissolves
Like coral to sand
Like sea to sky
Sky to night to nothing at all
Starving in the jungle
Digested by this immense organism
Drop by drop
Pound by pound
Thought by thought
So that your thoughts become its thoughts
Its thoughts your thoughts
Where death is as verdant as life
So thick with it that they are the same
And when life and death become indistinguishable
All foolish notions of identity and romance
Evaporate with the rain
Leaving only the buzzing-whirring-clicking-chirping
Cacophony-become-symphony
Under grass grown a hundred feet high
Where trees walk
Buzzards grumble
Monkeys roar from the mountaintops
Giant toads sing dirges for the rain
Flat and sad as a foghorn
Visions swarmed the jungle’s screaming night
As I sat gaping goggle-eyed
Vomit drool hanging from my lip
The healer’s song blasting my mind apart
And he wasn’t a man at all
But an enormously serpentine undulation
Studded with a thousand kaleidoscopic eyes
Having heard that snakes will do our bidding
Having come to deadroads in life
I wiped my chin
Collected my courage from the fractal ooze
And ordered that ancient worm to reveal my path
Drinking the Vine of the Dead we die
Not to be reborn but to be replaced
Lightning strikes
A boundless sentience moves
Through the trees
Through the earth
Through the water
Through the air
Snake meat and wormy fruit
A dying while never more truly alive
Under the cicadas’ maddening onslaught
No more vengeful blare
Small gods finally awakened
Ripping the world anew
There is only one reason to make art
Work made for any other being that of a dilettante
Lack of choice for whichever reason
Always speaks of a madness which is power
Which is merely the ability to do something
Synonymous with energy in physics
The capacity of a body or system to perform work
This is all there is
This is all there is
And humans fear it always
So at the core of great art is our great fear
Our joyous terror
The essence of all life and existence
The meat of power
You can see it if you close your eyes and look

Testimonials

Kamala Shakti Ibanez

“Gracias a usted por purificar mis ojos con tan bellas creaciones tan poderosas y magnificas!” Translation: “Thank you for purifying my eyes with beautiful creations so powerful and magnificent!” Kamala Shakti Ibanez Artist Kamala Shakti: Global movement characterized...

Christina Zaliznock-Buehler

“I was I introduced to Chris’ work through a mutual friend who owns a piece. I was absolutely floored by his attention to detail and how much the piece moved me so I contacted Chris to inquire about commissioning one for myself. I was expecting to have a nice...

Ronna Jojola Gonsalves

“I look at one of your glorious pieces of art every day. She brings tears of joy and inspiration to me. She reminds me to be honest and whole. She shows me the many sides of life and love and my own brand of faith. Yes, there is dark in her, in you, in your art, in...

Dr. Richard Grossman

“I first saw Chris Isner’s astounding sculptures on a post in Facebook. I was instantly fascinated by his work. At once it is dark, monstrous, a deep exploration of a tortured Id; and at once mythic, beautiful, transcendent, and a triumph of human potential. I’d like...
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