Chris Keenan


Previously Sold

About Chris Keenan

Born in New York, Chris began his career as a professional pilot. He also pursued a dream of offshore sailing and, after meeting his Kiwi wife Mary, they sailed a 31 foot cutter from New England through the Caribbean to off the Venezuelan coast. Leaving aviation for business he eventually founded a California company providing 3D CAD software and solutions for architecture, engineering and multimedia markets. Chris gained recognition with interactive software and served on the software reseller advisory boards of AutoDesk, Macromedia and Softdesk. In 2001 Chris and Mary sold the business and moved to Devonport.

In New Zealand Chris applied his 3D knowledge to animation, filmmaking and 3D modelling. A major client was the Department of Conservation which presented Chris with a conservation achievement award for his work recreating history in 3D. He is an advocate of sustainability and filmed the Hauraki Gulf island restoration programme for DOC.

Chris consulted at UNITEC where once a week he worked as a senior lecturer in 3D Animation, Film Design and Renewable Energy. His primary passion was design and he found himself focused on using 3D software to create physical objects. Chris used CAD software to design two yachts, including Tangent, his 12 meter schooner which he built together with professional boat builders. Shaping fins and foils by hand was his forte but he started using 3D printing to create forms for casting bronze, aluminium and composite boat components.

As an environmentalist, Chris started a project to promote 3D printing as a tool to recycle drinking bottles. Chris worked with organisations like Callaghan Innovation, Massey University, The New Zealand Product Accelerator, Victoria University and others to advance the concept. While printing products from recycled bottles proved successful, the limitations and hazards of plastics lead him to look at other materials and he fell in love with ceramics as the ultimate sustainable material.

Chris and Mary built a studio at their bach and formed REFORGE to create digital ceramics, along with Mary's print art. Chris forms his art using advanced software and experimental clay 3D printing technology. With digital ceramics, the idea is not to replicate what can be spun from a potters’ wheel. Rather, it is to create entirely new forms made possible by merging digital tools with ancient hand finishing techniques. Chris's inspiration is the natural world and he often uses the same math patterns found in nature to help express his art. Today Chris and Mary divide their time between Devonport, their Mahurangi Art Studio and sailing the Hauraki Gulf aboard Tangent.