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Christensen Arms

Dolan Geiman Interview



Dolan Geiman Q&A

June 15, 2021 | Christensen Arms

Before you start reading, do you want to see High Country King first? (We get it!)
Meet Dolan Geiman

Among many things, Dolan Geiman is the artist behind our latest Ram head art piece that you might have seen. He is best known as a contemporary collage artist specializing in the reuse of found materials and objects including vintage paper, reclaimed wood, and salvaged metal. These diverse collage materials are carefully curated, cut, and combined with other artistic techniques including painting, screenprinting, and sculpture to create the final modern artworks. Geiman’s original mixed media art collages are highly textured and intricately detailed, inspired by the flora and fauna of the natural world, the rich history of the US, and the influence of classic collage artists that came before.

Dolan with rifle

Interviewing Dolan Geiman

If you had to describe your style of art in one word, what would the word be?

What’s your process of sourcing materials for your projects?
Let me paint a picture for you: an old peasant sits atop a wooden wheeled cart, pulled by bulky oxen who are sweating and farting in the spring heat, pulling a long wagon of sundry materials. The peasant pulls hard on the reins and stops the cart next to a large wooden barn, whose roof has given up and relaxed into a sagging saddle of shingles. The peasant drags a burlap sack through the tall grass and enters the barn, and starts to fill the sack with various musty books, old rusted cans full of dirt and dead moths, piles of rope in varied colors, a leather boot with no sole, and a pitchfork with a broken handle. He returns to the cart and swings the burlap sack up onto the wagon, to rest amongst all of the other old forgotten materials. This is perhaps the best description of what it’s like when I go scavenging for materials. There are no clean white gloves here, no Amazon shopping carts full of crisp new paint, no crystal clean spring breeze whipping through my hair. I crawl through graveyards and climb through briar patches in search of the forgotten brass jacket button, the cracked leather saddle strap, the silverfish-riddled stack of magazines. I do not rub shoulders with pristine materials, my hands wouldn’t recognize their absence of character.

How does your love for nature and wildlife influence your artwork? 
I grew up surrounded by a ripe eastern forest, rolling hills, and blue mountains in Virginia and spent time exploring and developing a deep appreciation for nature in those places. My father worked for the Forest Service in the George Washington National Forest and we lived in a cabin there for years during the summer. Our nights were filled with campfire smoke and whippoorwill whistles, our days full of brook trout, rhododendron, and rattlesnakes. When I got a bit older, I worked as an interpretative naturalist for the Forest Service as well, in that same chunk of forest. Growing up and waking up daily in the woods changes your life, your pace, your outlook.  I am deeply aware that as humans, we’re pretty anthropocentric: we feel like we’re the center of the ecosystem. I believe that we are not. Rather, we are merely a part of it. Through my work,  I’m looking to pay homage to mother nature and the animals that work so hard to co-exist with us. 

As a footnote to this, when it comes to incorporating elements of nature into my work, I’ve always been fascinated by the shapes created in the natural world: shrubs with magnum-sized thorns, thistles sprouting brilliant seed heads, pinecones that unfurl when they hit the earth. Everything has its own texture and seems to – on its own – be sculptural. Once I started seeing pieces of plants and trees as sculptures, it opened my mind to many other layers of inspiration that can be found in the natural world. As an artist, spending time outdoors is equivalent to eating plate after plate of dessert.

Dolan working

What was it like to work with carbon fiber, and how does it compare to other metals you use?
This carbon fiber has been such an inspiring material to work with! It’s incredibly lightweight – I found myself expecting to need to flex hard to pick up the horns on this ram sculpture, but found I could lift them with one hand, which is not normally the case with my carved sculptural pieces. It is surprisingly (almost) weightless. It was also really interesting to see what the carbon fiber could withstand. I melted it, bent it, cut it: it stood up to everything and proved to be a versatile, fluid material to create a very specific shape (you can see that in the ram’s horns). Since carbon fiber is also known for its strength and rigidity, I wanted to explore wrapping it over a form (similar to what Christensen Arms does with its carbon fiber barrels). Compared to other metals I work with – a lot of steel and tin, reclaimed scrap, and the like – the carbon fiber was really agreeable to becoming a new shape. It was a treat to work with something so strong and yet so plastic in its behavior.

How does a carbon fiber rifle barrel make a difference for you outdoors and in your studio?
Carbon fiber might be a new addition to my standard materials in the studio;) It’s a material that has the type of character I look for when I am on the hunt for something different to add to my arsenal of materials. I am inspired by what this stuff can do and would love to explore it more. 

Outdoors, a carbon fiber barrel is an incredible asset. I live in Colorado, and am known for my desire to explore the hardest places to reach on a mountain, which usually means going straight to the top, through canyons, over rocks, and deadfall. A lightweight firearm transforms my time on the mountain from hiking with a rifle to actually hunting.  It’s a huge difference, and now that I’m saving weight in my rifle, I can carry more found materials back to my studio when I’m out on a mountain adventure;)  (pretty much every trip I take into the woods, be it hunting, fishing, hiking…I always seem to fill my pack with materials that will be turned into art. Check out my Instagram Reels for some videos..)

Horns in progress

What’s your favorite Christensen Arms rifle and why?
I really like the Summit TI 7mm. I primarily hunt elk and mule deer, so this one is a great fit for me. It’s lightweight which, as anyone knows who has hunted elk in Colorado, is really nice to have on your back when you’re hiking into Elk country. It’s also deadly accurate and the action is smooth. Aesthetically, I love the look of the natural carbon fiber finish, and the thumbhole stock option. This rifle is slick.

What has been your biggest challenge in creating the Ram piece?
My biggest challenge creating this piece was deciding how to incorporate the carbon fiber: it has so many uses and responds so well to every technique I applied to it, it was challenging to decide how to best use its versatility. Once I decided on the ram’s horns, the challenge was to determine the best treatment to create the most realistic look while still being cool 😉

What’s your biggest motivation for helping conservation efforts?
We are just visitors here. Wildlife and its habitat are central themes in my work: they inspire so much wonder and beg to be explored, studied, and revered. I am passionate about protecting resources, creatures, and the majestic landscape that makes up this country.  I spend every spare minute trying to sprint to the mountains to just be there and take in that vast and beautiful landscape. I feel that living here in this country and getting to explore the wilds of Colorado is a privilege, and I want to make sure my nieces and nephews get that same experience.

How did you choose The Rocky Mountain Elk Donation to receive the donations?
RMEF is one of my favorite organizations. I am a big believer in conservation and RMEF’s efforts to maintain habitat for our native elk are admirable. I love their work to expand access to private land and natural spaces across the USA  – I am an explorer and an adventurer by nature, so this accessibility to dig deeper into the natural world is close to my heart. I want more people to be able to explore and connect with Nature in a wild setting.

Join our conservation efforts and bid on High Country King.

Ram Straight On