What is predictable about nature is change---change of seasons, birth, life, death and ultimate decay. Built into that predictable cycle of change seems a core of randomness that ultimately enlivens existence and life's experience. But it isn't nature so much that Wisconsin artist Rebecca Crowell is addressing in her paintings. Rather, the random effects of nature's cycles on man's intrusions into nature. Our walls and buildings. With her process of selectively adding and scraping away, she makes paintings that at first glance, resemble aging and ancient walls. But the palimpsest-like surfaces of her work take us beyond "the wall" to another level of thought becoming parallel markers of the passage of time.
Old Wall: Pyrenees, oil and wax on board 24 x 18 inches, 2009
Rebecca Crowell's Statement:
One of the remarks people have about my work is that it seems to embody a sense of time--that my surfaces often appear ancient, eroded and weathered. This is a result of a process in which I build up layers of paint mixed with cold wax medium, and then selectively scrape, scratch and apply solvent to portions of the upper layers. I like the idea that form/process and concept merge in this process--although my work draws on many sources, weathered and worn surfaces in nature and old human-made objects are among the most important--and the way I interpret this source is by building up and then tearing down the paint layers. As in nature, there is a random quality that results from this process, though of course, I also edit and select in order to reach aesthetic goals.
Recently I spent time at an artist retreat in a small, medieval village in the Pyrenees Mountains of Catalonia, Spain, and later a few days in Barcelona. These were perfect places for feeding my love of ancient surfaces--old stone and plaster walls, worn paths, crumbling slate cliffs, and ruins of old barns--all very beautiful to me. Abstracted interpretations of these surfaces have become an important thread in my recent work.