B.F.A Fine Art Painting
M.P.A. Nonprofit Management & Environmental Policy
M.S. Environmental Humanities & Leadership Development
Chris Peterson grew up in the foothills of Timpanogos along Utah’s Wasatch Front. During his twenties, he served an LDS Mission to the South Bronx, studied painting at BYU and Kansas City Art Institute, spent time living and painting in New York City and took semesters off to explore the wild corners of the American West.
In 2001, Chris pivoted from studio artmaking to pursue a graduate education in conservation, education, and community-building work. Graduate studies at the University of Utah earned Chris an M.P.A. in Nonprofit Management & Environmental Policy and an M.S. in Environmental Humanities focusing on conflict resolution and leadership development.
His organizational work during this time included Colorado River restoration and tribal coalition-building, charter school co-founding, conservation leadership development, teaching as K-6 art specialist, rural development humanitarian work in East Africa and South Asia and directing the Sorenson Unity Center’s civic engagement and arts programs for Salt Lake City.
In 2009, Chris began moonlighting on murals and organizing community arts and youth-centered park visioning projects as a strategy for combating nature deficit disorder”. He worked with various organizations to provide youth arts programming, including community murals with Ugandan and Cambodian youth and students across Utah.
In 2017, he was commissioned to install a 45 foot jaguar mural, inspiring him to restart his studio practice to refine his painting and design processes around wildlife concepts. His practice today includes mixed-media studio paintings, large scale murals, and placemaking projects and custom installations.
In 2022, Chris partnered with the Utah Wildlife Federation to launch the Utah Wildlife Walls Project: A statewide arts, science and engagement campaign to celebrate wildlife in every county, including the installation of 29 wildlife murals; one in each county. Chris is the principal of Chris Peterson Studio LLC., based in Holladay, Utah
I’m an artist, a sportsman and a conservationist. I have a love of wild places and wildlife for what they tell us about who we are as humans. There is no more magical an experience than being in the presence of a wild animal in the backcountry. My dreams, imagination, and mental health have been nourished by growing up outside where the wild things are.
My work is meditation on nature. Making it is a ritual; an elegy for the mythic beasts in our presence. An exploration of our modern and instinctual connection to wild animals and our shared struggle for survival on a warming planet.
Creating art inspired by wild animals is therapeutic for me; an emotional salve for undiagnosed trauma from an early age. My nervous system revved high for 45 years without me recognizing it. Looking back now, I realize my subconscious was drawn to nature-based art-making as a survival strategy to self-soothe and restore balance.
Along the way, my pursuit of backcountry adventures - especially fishing and hunting - have afforded me a lot of wildlife encounters. Those high doses of nature were and are still deeply inspirational to me. The healing power of wildlife encounters have since become the focus of my artistic gaze.
My studio and mural work evokes nostalgia and the collective loss of wildness. It is primarily inspired by the dreams that follow encounters with the wild. It is a celebration of the relationship we have with animals, and our shared sense of place and time in the cosmos. -February, 2023