Chris Kannen is an artist based in Denver, Colorado. His work is based on the observation of natural objects and phenomena. Specific places play a role in his pictures, and have included Iceland, Antarctica, and more recently, the American West. Chris has participated in artist in residence programs in these places including an Antarctic Artist and Writer Award from the National Science Foundation, where he was afforded two months in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. This residency resulted in paintings and a forthcoming photobook scheduled for release Spring 2018. A second artist book of watercolor paintings made from observation around the Colorado Front Range will also be available later this year.

This site is updated with recent work a few times a year. Here are a few words about the current work:

What Came First is a collection of six acrylic and oil paintings on canvas that depart in various directions from the observation of an egg on a granite counter. This simple arrangement of commonplace objects struck a profound note. Getting around the eggy pun, what really did come first? We will never know completely. The basic elements we understand: the sun; the rock that is our home and evolutionary egg floating in "space;" moisture building and proteins folding and beings emerging, etched in the rocks, embedded in spacetime. That's a lot to suggest in six little paintings but this general line of thinking is what they are made of.

Five Views of Bear Peak is an ongoing series of large watercolor paintings on paper. These in particular were painted from observation in two locations: facing west toward the mountain, from the front seat of a car on a gravel shoulder off South Cherryvale Road outside Boulder; and from a picnic table at Walker Ranch, facing back east. Future paintings in this series may include southern and northern views of Bear. Also under consideration are Shirttail Peak, Hallett Peak and Eldorado Mountain, among others. If you have suggestions please send them my way.

For more images or information, or for access to a larger archive of work, please get in touch through the form below or by writing to

I invite you to follow me on Instagram @chriskannen, and read my blog, Toward an Ocean.

Thanks for visiting!


Name *


born 1977 in Cleveland, OH

based in Denver, CO


  • MFA, Hunter College, New York, NY, 2001
  • BFA, University of Dayton, Dayton, OH, 1999


  • Antarctic Artist and Writer Award, U.S. National Science Foundation, 2008
  • Artist In Residence, Samband Islenskra Myndlistarmanna, Reykjavik, Iceland, 2004
  • Graf Travel Grant, Hunter College Art Department, 2001


  • New Artwork from Antarctica, Studio D Gallery, University of Dayton, OH, 2008
  • After the Arctic, PH Gallery, New York, NY, 2005
  • Christopher Kannen, B. Deemer Gallery, Louisville, KY, 2000


  • Journeys: Travel Photography, Black Box Gallery, Portland, OR (juried by artist Ethan Jackson) (catalogue), 2013
  • screening, H20 Film on Water, Emory University Visual Arts Building, Atlanta, GA, 2012
  • H2O Film on Water, Newport Mill, Newport, NH (juried by Denise Markonish, curator, MassMOCA, North Adams, MA), 2012
  • Topos, Maynard Art Center, Maynard, MA, 2009
  • Sasquatch Society, Sixtyseven Gallery, New York, NY, 2005
  • Chris Kannen, Eric Torborg, PH Gallery, New York, NY, 2004
  • Sojourn, PH Gallery, New York, NY, 2003
  • Carefully Drawn, Storefront 1838, New York, NY, 2002
  • Alumni Exhibition, Rike Center Gallery, Dayton, OH, 2001


  • Art Department, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, 2013
  • Art and Environment program, School of Art and Design, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, 2012
  • Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill, MA, 2009
  • West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, 2009
  • Department of Visual Arts, University of Dayton, Dayton, OH, 2008
  • public interview, “Where Have You Been? with Jeff Stark,” Bluestockings Books, New York, NY, 2008
  • artist talk, Robert Gober studio, New York, NY, 2008
  • artist talk, Design Trust for Public Space, New York, NY, 2008
  • artist talk, Sunday Science Lecture Series, McMurdo Station, Antarctica, 2008


  • “Whatever Moves or Makes Noise,” ARID Journal, Spring/Summer 2013, Volume 2, Issue 1.
  • Artist Blog, “Parhelion Pemmican Pack Ice Pancake”, December 19, 2007—April 1, 2009.


  • Alan Taylor, “Recent Scenes from Antarctica”, In Focus, The Atlantic, March 4, 2011.
  • Ransom Riggs, “Vacation to Mars: Antarctica’s Dry Valleys”, mental_floss, February 3, 2010.
  • James Wagner, “Sasquatch Society at Sixtyseven,”, August 28, 2005, 7:05 PM.
  • Ken Johnson, “Art Guide,” The New York Times, September 12, 19, 2003.

 Is this Russia?

Is this Russia?