Dragon Smoker

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About the Artists
Chris Hampton, PhD
Born in CT. in 1973, the child of two artists both Alabama transplants, Chris studied art with his parents until graduating from high school. His development included traveling though parts of Europe, as well as parts of Asia and Africa. It was through these early travels that Chris first became aware of the cuisine of other cultures and his fascination with food began. The early influence of these culinary encounters can be seen in Chris's artistic style in which original sculptures and barbecue smokers form a synergy of expression.

Later in his development, Chris attended the University of Georgia, where he studied Sculpture, earning a BFA in 1997. He then went on to Florida State University to further his studies in Sculpture, earning an MFA in 2000. Chris began his career by teaching in college and spent 3 years as an Adjunct Professor at FSU in the Visual Arts Department. At the same time, he continued his education by enrolling in the Ph.D. program at FSU. He studied Arts Administration and received his doctoral degree in 2008.

It was during the time he spent living in the southeastern United States that he was exposed to authentic slow smoked meats known as barbecue. The more he began to explore the culinary process, the more he found a means of culinary expression reflective of Southern people, inherent to Southern culture. Chris learned that barbecue is a process that is handed down through family lineage, recipes for which are protected as a prized possession.

Due to the exclusive and challenging nature of the process and the reward of being able to produce the most delectable, fall off the bone, ribs, chicken and brisket imaginable, Chris set out to explore and learn to barbecue in the traditional manner. As the years passed, he developed a deep love for the barbecue process and all traditionally smoked meats, fish and vegetables.

When he and his wife Cheri moved to New York City in 2008, the absence of authentic Southern style barbecue served as the inspiration for the design and creation of this prototype smoker. Eventually, he and his dad combined their artistic training with their passion for perfect barbecue and created a Dragon Smoker. The original sculptures they now create are the manifestation of both passions - art and barbecue.

John K Hampton

John is a retired art teacher and administrator who is now focusing on art making. Born in Alabama, but raised in Connecticut, he went back to Alabama for college receiving a BFA in sculpture from the University of Alabama in 1971. He then returned to Connecticut furthering his education with a Masters in Art Education from Central Connecticut State University in 1980 and had a successful teaching career in the public school system. He has traveled to Italy several times and has been inspired to continue his work as a sculptor by the spectacular art of the old world.

The opportunity to work with his son Chris to help design and fabricate the Dragon Smoker is an additional source of inspiration. Both are sculptors, welders, and metal workers, as well as lovers of Southern style barbecue. It was natural for the father and son team to collaborate and make the smokers out of steel. Working together, the two plan to make lots of great smokers and wonderfully whimsical dragons.