Cris Bruch was born in Sugarcreek, Missouri in 1957 and raised in the Kansas City, Missouri area. He earned a BFA in ceramics/sculpture at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Following completion of an MFA and MA at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Bruch moved to Seattle in 1986, the city that has remained his home for over 25 years.
In the 1980's BruchÕs work was often performance driven, and focused on issues of deep concern to himÑthe imbalance and aggression latent in American consumer culture and its pervasive impact on homelessness and economic disparity, and a wish to bridge the gap between art from its audience. A major body of work from this period was a series of shopping carts which dealt with these issues metaphorically, and which were exhibited to critical acclaim. In 1989, he received the Northwest Major Works Award from the Seattle Arts Commission. A commission for the Northgate Transit Center METRO station began a decades-long involvement with public art. He garnered a number of important reviews during this period, with his work being discussed in the national publications ArtNews, High Performance, Artweek, Art in America and Art Forum.
In the 1990s, Bruch's work began to integrate issues of consumer culture and social/economic disparity with a more formal aesthetic, characterized by the use of non-traditional materials and repetitive processes. This work was informed by an awareness of the unconscious, oft-repeated actions that, to one degree or another, form our lives and define who we are. In 1990, Bruch received the Betty Bowen Memorial Award, created a permanent entry sculpture for the Port Angeles Fine Art Center and was selected for residencies at the Ateliers Hoherweg, Dusseldorf, Germany; Djerassi Foundation, Woodside, California; and Centrum Foundation, Port Townsend, Washington.
In 2001, he received a Neddy Fellowship from the Behnke Foundation in Seattle, awarded to outstanding artists working in the Northwest. He served as a visiting instructor at Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana and at the Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts in Chicago, Illinois. In 2003, one of his sculptures was purchased as part of the Honors Award Program for the King County Art Collection, and he was honored with an Alumni Achievement Award, bestowed by the University of Wisconsin. A comprehensive survey of his work was presented by the Salt Lake Art Center, Salt Lake City, Utah in 2003, portions of which then traveled to the Boise Art Museum, Boise, Idaho in 2004. Since 2000, BruchÕs career has included more public commissions. He has created iconic large-scale sculptures for the University of Washington, Seattle; the Wayne Lyman Morse United States Courthouse in Eugene, Oregon; 5th Avenue Transit Corridor, Portland, Oregon; and Brightwater Environmental Education and Community Center, among others. During the past decade, Bruch has received an Artist Trust/ Washington State Arts Commission Artist Fellowship (2006), a Pollock Krasner Foundation award (2007), an Artist Trust GAP grant (2012 and 2006), 4Culture Individual Artist Project Grant (2011) and a Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs CityArtist Project Grant (2012).