Christopher Lutter-Gardella | Visual Arts


Christopher Lutter-Gardella | Visual Arts

"Chris and his puppetry and his music really worked with our kindergarten children. He is a treasure." -- Mr. Bowden, Talahi Community School
"Christopher was excellent, very patient and calm.  He was a lot of fun and the elders enjoyed having him here. When speaking with one of the Residents that worked with Chris, he said that at first he didn't think he would like making puppets, but after he met Chris and started working with him he was hooked!" -- Activity Director, Older Adult Care Center

Christopher is a sculptor and theater artist who believes that there is a deep-residing need for hands-on, kinesthetic creative work. Puppetry combines materials exploration, an engaging hand-crafting and invention component, and an intersection of movement, language and imaginative theatrical invention. All of these aspects provide a holistic sensory experience, as well as a broad appeal to a wide range of learning styles. He works predominately with waste materials and places a strong emphasis on the ecology of the waste-to-art process. Through this process he teaches the science and environmental intersections of the various materials used.

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Christopher received his BA in English Literature at Northland College in Ashland, WI. He has worked and designed for a wide-range of exhibits and organizations. He has been a designer for Black Dog Café in Saint Paul, building a spectacle-scale black dog puppet which was a project for Springboard’s Irrigate program. He has also worked for Seward Childcare Center and TigerLion Arts. He has been a program designer and teacher for VA Minnesota and Epic Enterprise Inc. where he designed and implemented a five-week long puppetry arts residency. This served people with severe developmental disabilities and mental illness. 

Sample Programs: Customizable To Site’s Needs


The Puppet Farm: "Waste-to-Wonder"

Use every day recyclables to create an assortment of puppets! (Artist can work with any given theme or existing script.)

Hand Puppet Theater—Using a variety of household waste materials, students will make hand puppet figures and showcase them, at the end of the week, on the puppet stage! Script-work, physical and vocal theater training, musical accompaniment and small group collaboration may also be included.

Homemade Parade—Make a huge dragon, a gaggle of frogs, a herd of wild animals, undersea creatures, insects … you name it! Choose a theme and we’ll make a parade!

Marionettes—Using scraps of wood, screw eyes, fabric scraps, string (and other things!) students will create string-operated marionettes. Puppets will perform on the marionette stage at the end of the week. Marionettes offer the opportunity to study—and experience—the basic laws of mechanical physics!

Fast Art for a Fast World—Wire hanger insects, paper bag beasts, milk jug doves, soda bottle spiders, paper carton fish—students will learn how to transform everyday recyclables into fun puppets and masks … FAST!


Moving Mouth Puppets (Muppet-style)

This style of puppet, made famous by the Muppets, is generally comedic and marvelously endearing. Using foam, fabric and “do-dads,” participants craft their own unique, moving mouth puppet. 

The making of these puppets entails a fair deal of cutting and hand-sewing (with large needles and thread) of thin upholstery foam and various fabrics, from faux fur to burlap. Mustaches, glasses, hair-dos, props and costumes give these puppets their specialized characteristics. In the end, participants can give their puppet its own unique voice and even teach it to recite a poem, tell a story or crack a joke!


Traditional Glove Puppets

Using clay, papier-mâché, fabric, paint, fibers and other decorative elements, participants craft highly personalized characters for the hand-puppet theater. These puppets are also known as “Punch-and-Judy-style” or simply “fist puppets.” The variety of materials used in the process make for a very rewarding hands-on experience, from sculpting the head and hand-forms in clay, to papier-mâching, cutting, tailoring and sewing of costumes; and painting and gluing-on of details. No experience is necessary!



The Miracle of Lorestan

Drawn from an Iranian urban folk-legend, this shadow puppet presentation tells the story of a small child, lost in the chaos of war, who is taken in by a kind bear. When parents and villagers find her, the bear teaches about compassion and living in harmony. This form of puppetry is heavily influenced by the Indonesian shadow puppet tradition. Includes a Q & A period and a behind-the-scenes demonstration.



Be an Animal! Mask & Movement

With ready-made animal masks provided by the instructor, students will learn the basics of mask performance. The workshop may culminate in a works-in-progress presentation to fellow schoolmates. Folk dance movement motifs may be integrated for younger students.



This eco-conscious mask and puppet construction workshop uses everyday household consumer packaging waste such as cereal boxes, grocery sacks and soda bottles to construct unique mask and puppet creations.