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Reverse Side

2021-09-09T13:31:47-05:00

Reverse Side

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Crown’s driving force every day was to ask “What’s not wrong today?” While living in a state of uncertainty, Crown found a way back to the essentials and to the importance of connecting with both family, friends, and our own selves. 

Throughout this year, Crown found herself meditating again and again on the Japanese proverb “a Monogoto niwa taitei ura no ura ga aru mono da” which translates to “in most things generally there is a reverse to the reverse.” The reverse side of COVID-19 will always have another side. Every day has a night. Every month has periods of darkness and full moons. This is the cycle of the universe, and we need to be resilient and push on. 

This daily intention sparked a new series of paintings, which eventually became the center of her EMANARE installation. The canvases integrate the text from this Japanese proverb with swatches of color reminiscent both of Crown’s Aspen Map paintings and the underside of a patched quilt. There is no right or wrong side — each side has a counterpart and a story to tell.

Buddha

2020-12-04T17:29:37-06:00

Buddha

Through expression and exploration, we collectively process our inner states, and in uncertain times the artist returns to making. During a trip in 2019 to the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, Crown was drawn to a sculpture of Buddha effaced and melted by the atomic bomb during World War II.

Crown’s investigation of the Buddha sculpture, revealed a form that echoed the shape of the mushroom cloud. The image is heart-wrenching and represents the shadowy echo of the bomb. It embodied the moment as an indexical witness to the power of the destruction. And yet, it is also phoenix-like, representing hope and understanding of how we can do better. In this most recent series, Crown iterates on the sculpture’s form time and again, transforming the 3d sculpture into a 2d abstracted representation, layering varying mediums to build up the surface. The original icon and its iterative forms remind us all that we can begin again and renew from the destruction.

Resilience (2019-21)

2021-09-02T10:52:04-05:00

Resilience (2019-21)

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen

Crown’s newest artwork Resilience re-envisions the iconic sculpture JOKESTER in a new medium. The dramatically crushed and compacted form continues her #SOLOTOGETHER series, which offers a platform for connection and environmental advocacy.

As a student of art and history, Crown has long been interested in the medium of bronze and its transformational possibilities. Artists began making bronze sculptures as early as 2500 BCE using a process called Cire Perdue, or the lost-wax method of casting in which molten metal is carefully poured into a mold created from a wax model. For Resilience, Crown worked with Factum Arte in Madrid from 2019 through 2021 to perfect the Cire Perdue technique. Under Crown’s direction, Factum first manufactured a 3D polyurethane model based on a high-resolution scan of an original crushed cup. Once the at-scale model was fully milled, the team created a ceramic shell by injecting the mold with wax and coating the surface with sand and stucco. After melting the internal wax between the shell and mold, the model was fired in an oven. Bronze artisans poured the molten metal into the ceramic shell in stages to produce subsections of the overall cup. Crown then directed the welding process and subsequent varnishing, sanding, and highlighting to bring the sections seamlessly together. The final step in the process constituted repatination, which resulted in a silver finish on the exterior showing movement and traces of the hand. The finished sculpture shimmers with an oil-like spectral quality, beautiful yet seemingly toxic and suggestive of uncertainty, complexity, and change. 

Crown purposefully selected one of the most ancient art-making mediums for Resilience to transport the viewer to a possible future where questions like “Who made this monument?” and “Why?” might be asked. The sculpture reflects the artist’s belief in our ability to transfer energy and generate marks throughout the landscape. Even handling an object as mundane as a solo cup records human activity. As a future relic of marks made in our contemporary moment, Resilience contains a dual meaning. On the one hand, it functions as a warning against single-use plastics and their devastating environmental impact. On the other hand, the sculpture is deeply connected to the COVID-19 era and memorializes the collective grief, trauma, reckoning, and, ultimately, healing experienced amidst the Pandemic. Though many of us were metaphorically ‘crushed’ during this period, we nevertheless stand resilient, with Resilience reminding us all — to paraphrase Leonard Cohen — to seek the light in the cracks.

ALPHABRAVO

2020-09-28T13:30:05-05:00

ALPHABRAVO

Crown’s ongoing interest in presence and finding one’s bearings through the attention to bodily senses manifest through her ALPHABRAVO series. 

This ongoing body of work draws upon a phonetic alphabet. Initially developed for aviation, the alphabet is now used more frequently to facilitate clear mobile communication. There is a quiet urgency to this coded language, both in the words themselves and in the rhythm of the language. 

Crown’s treatment of the selected colors, surfaces, and materials abstract the language of aviation into skyscapes. The pale gouache is applied perfectly in the negative space so that the letters themselves are formed by the color and texture of the linen substrate. Animated with subtly glittering microspheres, these works are altered by the viewer’s movement and the surrounding light sources. Through these subtle reflections and color shifts of the paintings, the works suggest a liminal space between the seen and unseen, what is represented and what is not.

ALPHABRAVO (Call Signs), 2015, Oil on canvas, 53 x 83 in (134.6 x 210.8 cm)

Detail — ALPHABRAVO (Call Signs), 2015, Oil on canvas, 53 x 83 in (134.6 x 210.8 cm)

Aspen Maps

2020-10-13T17:23:52-05:00

Aspen Maps

As we orient ourselves to space, our perceptions are easily distorted by point of view, time, and memory. The Aspen Map series is based on trail maps in Aspen that are abstracted, layered, and rotated to reveal new forms and patterns. Digital and analog drawing and painting techniques reveal what is present in a novel way. Maps often have their own viewpoint and biases, Crown’s reconfiguration is a reminder that we must always question the information presented to us and ask what has been left out of the story.

Derived from an angled overhead perspective of the trail map of ski runs at Aspen Snowmass, Crown uses a blend of digital and analog drawing techniques to overlay viewpoints while flattening perspective. The most elaborate sketches become paintings, which start as printed color forms on glassy smooth gesso-primed linen, each with a distinct and nuanced color palette.

Over a period of weeks and months, the surfaces accrue layer after layer of delicately calibrated brushwork. Her painting process emulates the numinous surface of fresh snow. Sinuous marks evoke an imagined journey down the mountain and explore how our senses can orient us in space.

The Aspen Map works are puzzle-like compositions that are both adamantly flat and invitingly deep.

CLOUDY

2020-09-28T13:49:12-05:00

CLOUDY

Exploring time, space and geometries, Crown’s practice investigates how landscape can exist in many forms and dimensions. Identifying elements of landscape in the smallest details of her work, CLOUDY reflects this ongoing exploration.

In one of Crown’s original mark-making exercises, Helicopter Drawings (2010), the artist visually captures the visceral feeling of flying in a helicopter. While in the air over the mountains in South Africa, Crown sketched moving through time and space. The marks created an index of her experience and interaction with the patterns of the world in a tangible way. Further investigation of these marks continues to be a generative source for the artist, evolving into vast explorations of scale, dimension, and perspective through several mediums.

CLOUDY represents a portion of these original drawings that have been transformed into 3D-depth studies. Drawings are rotated, dimensionalized, and rescaled addressing the viewer’s relationship to them. From there, Crown extrapolated and transformed these marks into immersive and reflective sculptures. The materiality reflects the surrounding space while retaining the organic forms and shapes from Crown’s original mark-making exercise. The direct marks connect the intimacy of that original experience to the sublime expanse of the horizon.

SOLO TOGETHER

2020-11-09T17:47:06-06:00

SOLO TOGETHER

SOLO TOGETHER has become one of Crown’s most recognizable bodies of work manifested in multiple mediums and scales. It is about the singular experience of togetherness.

The crushed cups are cast painstakingly in plaster and painted meticulously by hand. Each cup has a named identity that imagines an unconscious transference of emotions onto the form of each cup. Failing Out is flattened, Insta-worthy is sinuously turned, and Eileen tilts to one side. They are uncannily weighty.

SOLO TOGETHER is a contemplation on the many imprints we make in the world, often unconsciously. While appreciating the uniqueness of each human mark, SOLO TOGETHER underscores the constraints of our interwoven ecosystem and our dependence on one another. It is a call to mindfulness and consideration of how each gesture, mark, and word can affect our existence and environment in profound ways. We exist in dual modes…solo and together.

Like a palimpsest, the earth tells the tale of collective marks, accretions, and excavations. The production and disposal of single-use plastics poison our water and our air. SOLO TOGETHER highlights the social, environmental, and cultural complexities behind this familiar icon. The bright red cup evokes a party culture and yet turned upside down, it resembles an alarm siren.

The cup reflects a consumer culture defined by optimism and abundance. It is convenient, low cost and tossed after one use. But, after the party, who will clean up the physical remains of a transient event? Like zombies in a graveyard, the cups appear again and again. How will we manage the oppressive quantity of single-use plastic products? Crown’s works, in actual size or large scale, reminds us of our joint responsibility to address this challenge.

Ultimately, SOLO TOGETHER creates a platform for connection.

SOLO TOGETHER, 2018 — Elmhurst Art Museum’s McCormick House. Part of IN THIS HOUSE, curated by Michelle Grabner.

SOLO TOGETHER, 2018, polystyrene

SOLO TOGETHER, 2017, polystyrene

SOLO TOGETHER, 2017, polystyrene

KINEMATIC

2021-09-09T13:02:37-05:00

KINEMATIC

KINEMATIC represents a moment in flow. 

In the series, Paula Crown employs a water and graphite drawing method to survey concepts of landscape, surface, texture, materiality, time, and environmentalism. The series starts from an investigation into liquid graphite and water, two materials that, like oil and water, do not mix. The poured liquid graphite flows in water creating a dynamic and ephemeral composition, an exploration of drawing on water with solids. The resulting forms are photographed and printed on flex gesso and polished stainless steel, reminiscent of the earth’s topography and photos taken from space, while also evoking the wonder of cosmology and space

Like the title from which the series derives, the artworks explore the definition of kinematics: “the branch of mechanics concerned with the motion of objects without reference to the forces which cause the motion.” Crown combines the potential of sophisticated technology with empirical knowledge from the artist’s studio, mixing analog with highly specialized innovation. This mirrors the artist’s core intent to create physical objects that embody the desire to grasp the ineffable. 

In the context of Crown’s commitment to environmentalism and advocacy against the proliferation of waste and single-use plastics, the intensity of neon in some of the KINEMATIC surfaces casts a vibrant, alarming, and unnatural atmosphere.

Phantasmagoria

2021-01-26T23:58:19-06:00

Phantasmagoria

Exploring time, space, and geometries, Crown’s practice investigates how landscapes can exist in many forms and dimensions. While in the air over the mountains in South Africa in 2012, Crown sketched moving through time and space. The marks created an index of her experience and interaction with the patterns of the world in a tangible way.  These Helicopter Drawings were transformed into immersive landscapes digitally and physically, inverting the micro into the macro. Common in Crown’s practice is her ability to look closely to reveal landscapes otherwise unseen. Whether via digital animations or extracting 3D objects from 2-dimensional works, her process yields knowledge. It is “in” formation.

Freezing Rain

2020-11-16T01:38:56-06:00

Freezing Rain

FREEZING RAIN captures a moment in time Continuing her artistic practice of embracing the use of photography and technology while honoring the core human instinct to make marks, FREEZING RAIN was conceived from photographs Crown took of rainstorms. From the printed digital images she made freehand drawings of individual raindrops. The artist then employed high-resolution scanners and software to read, enlarge, and map her drawings from which she created hundreds of elements crafted in Super Mirror stainless steel designed to mimic a sheet of rain. Crown suspends these elements at irregular intervals along 200 individual lengths of invisible monofilament. The artist completes her glistening impression of a stormy moment by fastening the lines tautly at precise angles from ceiling to floor. This series was first presented by Crown in New York as part of a solo exhibition by the same name at Marlborough Gallery.

FREEZING RAIN (dichroic), 2018, reimagined the first iteration with hand-drawn, dichroic Plexiglas raindrops. Dichroic’s rainbow-colored iridescent finish changes color depending on the light in the room and the angle of the viewer. The cascades of raindrops are suspended in time and space begging the viewer to contemplate their vantage point and their surroundings more slowly, more closely.

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