Creating under the pseudonym 2-Stroke since 2013, Christopher McElroy constructs one-of-a-kind pipes and rigs adorned with his colorful, psychedelic, textile-inspired patterning technique known as Heliocoileh. His current body of work includes polychromatic water pipes, dry pipes, cups, marbles, and beads, created with the philosophy that the ornamentation of daily objects serves to elevate an experience from mundane to mystical.
McElroy earned his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and his MFA from The University of Washington, where he studied under Mark Zirpel. His early glass mentors Emilio Santini, Sally Prasch and Rick Schneider encouraged him to forge his own path from the very start of his relationship with the medium. His sculptural and functional works have been exhibited at The Henry Arts Gallery (Seattle, Washington), Anderson Gallery (Richmond, Virginia), Traver Gallery (Seattle, Washington), Missoula Art Museum (Missoula, Montana), Dampkring Gallery (Amsterdam) and Pismo Fine Art Gallery (Aspen, Colorado).
Teaching has played an important part of McElroy’s history with glass and includes flameworking instruction at Kyoto University of Art and Design in Japan, Penland School of Crafts, the Corning Museum of Glass, Pilchuck Glass School, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel.
Growing up in Southwest Virginia’s scenic rolling hills and farmlands shaped McElroy’s affinity for agrarian and wilderness landscapes. Informed by color relationships in plants, animals, lichen, and minerals, the artist studies and examines how colors convey information of biological purpose. Lessons of age, nutrition, fertility, and danger are communicated among entities that speak the language of color.
Informed by avant-garde contemporary fashion, ceremonial objects of pre-columbian South American cultures, and textiles from around the world, the artist cites artistic influences to include Robert Irwin, El Anatsui, Kelsey Brooks, & Tom Sachs. Color, collection, and craft have always been and remain at the core of his studio practice.
In early June 2020, the artist exhibited new work in a four-person show, A Time for Passion, held at Stoked, Connecticut, and will be a part of Mins, a group pipe show held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 16, 2020.
From his studio in Hudson, New York, McElroy discusses the transition from sculpture to pipes, and how art school training affects his approach to functional glass.