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Chris Ayers

Chris Ayers ’97

Nick Patton

Nick Patton ’03

September 2008

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Animal Art exhibit showcases the work of two alumni illustrators

After a year of treatment for leukemia, Chris Ayers ’97 prescribed himself a different kind of therapy. He started a personal sketchbook that was to become “The Daily Zoo: Keeping the Doctor at Bay with a Drawing a Day.”

This month, visitors to the Baer Gallery on campus can see work from Ayers’ project along with more animal art from fellow alumnus and illustrator Nick Patton ’03.

Ayers, a concept artist in Los Angeles, was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, a type of blood cancer, in the spring of 2005. During that spring and summer he underwent multiple rounds of high-dose chemotherapy, radiation therapy and a stem cell transplant.

On the one-year anniversary of his leukemia diagnosis, when he was feeling fairly recovered — at least physically — Ayers started a sketchbook journal. “My goal was to draw one animal each day for a year,” he says. “Drawing animals is something that I have always enjoyed doing and I thought it would be a therapeutic and challenging endeavor, hopefully a way to help ‘center’ myself after the rollercoaster ride of dealing with cancer. The book itself presents all 365 sketches along with commentary, which ranges from describing my artistic and creative processes to reflections about my cancer experience.”

Ayers, who marked three years in remission this summer, is back at work in the entertainment industry. His work on movies like “Star Trek II,” “The Incredible Hulk” and “Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem” involves giving visual form to, or further developing, a character that exists only as words in a script, thoughts in a director's head, or as preliminary rough sketches. He collaborates with art directors, production designers, animators, and make-up and creature effects artists in order to make a character appealing, frightening, heroic or villainous, as the story calls for.

Patton, a graphic designer, is Ayers’ co-exhibitor for Alumni Animal Art. He will show book illustrations for his children’s stories “Can Giraffes Draw?” and “Rules for Babysitting Baxter.”

Patton’s design work will already be familiar to many alumni. He is employed in the office of communications at St. Norbert, where he has contributed to this e-newsletter and to the college magazine, as well as to many other publications. In particular, he is known as the creator of the new Green Knight identity, and his work has been recognized with several national awards.

Alumni Animal Art can be seen through Saturday, Sept. 27, in the Baer Gallery of the Bush Art Center. The exhibit is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Visitors will have the chance to meet both artists at a reception Tuesday, Sept. 16, 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Ayers’ “The Daily Zoo” will be published next month and is available for pre-order at

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