Erin: What are you curious about?
Crystal: With a background as a weaver I use lace structures as a conceptual foundation for my work. I see lace as a container of absence, arguing the negative space is more important than the patterns or the thread. Lace is a barrier allowing a voyeuristic gaze through itself, erotisizating the thing beyond. Through this new definition of lace as a container of absence, I arrive at my study of architectural space. Formally, the work takes shape through a vocabulary of building materials either paired with or mimicking handmade textiles including concrete, metal, and glass.
Erin: Describe your art and describe your process.
Crystal: Currently I am working in at least four different series that all investigate the negative space of patterns found in textile but they are realized in very different materials and material combinations. It has been important in my work to have my hands in different processes because it allows me to understand my visual interests from many angles.
Erin: Tell us about your background in weaving and how you got started.
Crystal: Growing up I didn’t view myself as an artist but was interested in functional objects and how much life they have embedded in them. They are touched and used and have a connection to the body in a way that paintings and sculpture don’t. Early on I found a joy and a beauty in these materials and processes and unconsciously started making art out of them. At 18 I began weaving and have never stopped. I am in love with the logic, the rhythm, and the structure of making cloth as well as all of the politics of its conversation.
Erin: How did you decide to integrate opposing materials like concrete into your delicate lace work?
Crystal: I find a wonderful tension between the industrial materials of the urban landscape such as glass and concrete and the structural pattern of cloth. By pairing these seemingly opposite materials together I invert the material stereotypes by using the ‘delicate’ material to exhibit strength and support the weight of the concrete or suspend the glass geometries. This gesture allows for a reinterpretation of material identities and the viewer is left to confront their understanding of these everyday functional materials.
Erin: We love your glass and lead three dimensional sculpture. How does that piece connect to your weaving?
Crystal: My materials to have deep poetic connections and contradictions. For example, both glass and lace can act as a protector or a shield at one level and at the same time a material of exposure. The negative space of the lace pattern causes the eye to pass easily through, to intrigue and eroticize the other side of the barrier. Similarly, glass keeps the outsider out while visually allowing them back in.
Erin: You have a multidisciplinary practice. How do you choose your medium for each new piece?
Crystal: I don’t know if I have a single way of choosing. Sometimes the idea comes from a previous series or experiments and other times it develops out of research, and other times the ideas comes from outer space.
Erin: Having your studio located in TI Studios, a creative hub in Red Hook Brooklyn, do you find creative influence and collaborations with others to be crucial?
Crystal: It is wonderful to be surrounded by so many creative people in one building. I often ask others for a quick eye and feedback and just talking to other artists who understand the struggles you are going through is immense. We share in one another's failures and successes.
Erin: If you had one superpower what would it be?
Crystal: If I had a superpower I would want to stretch time and time travel.
Erin: If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive who would it be with and what would it look like?
Crystal: There are so many answers to this question. I would love to have been a student in the weaving workshop at the Bauhaus. There was so much organic collaborations happening there. I would also love to work with Eve Hesse. I think I would have learned a lot from her material expressions. But I have been very lucky to work under amazing artist such as Josh Faught, Anne Wilson, Christine Tarkowski and others and wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything.
Erin: What's next?
Crystal: Lots of new work and exhibitions on the horizon. I just installed a new work of glass and lead solder at Dorsky Gallery in Long Island City which I am very excited about. I have new weavings on the loom that will continue my Variations on a Theme series and will be shown at Ille Arts in Amagansett this coming spring. I have also been invited to be artist in residence at La Maison des Metiers d’art de Quebec City in April.
Erin: You received a fellowship to work and teach in Amsterdam. How has this experience abroad influenced your approach to your work?
Crystal: My experience in Amsterdam was wonderful. I was honored with The Leonore Annenberg Fellowship for the Visual and Performing Arts and with this generous fellowship I moved to Amsterdam Holland to take a position at The Gerrit Rietveld Academie of Art. I work in the Glas Department under Jens Pfeifer and began research connecting the materiality of glass making with that of lacemaking. I was so fortunate to work closely with a world renowned lace master Lia Bauemister-Jonker. I learned so much from the incredible artist in Amsterdam that kind of blew my mind. They have different values in art practices that I have made an effort to carry with me like finding a balance or an edge between concept and emotionally charged work. I am currently working on a grant proposal to get back to Amsterdam to continue my research there.
Erin: In conjunction with your studio practice, you teach weaving to college level students. What's the one thing you wouldn't want them to know?
Crystal: There is so much to think about, talk about, and learn in a studio class. No topic is off limits. I hope to be transparent with my students and have inspired conversations daily.
Erin: You did a wonderful commissioned work for a private client which was inspired by classical music. Tell us about it!Crystal: In 2013 I was fortunate to be commission by the architect Stephen Lee to build a new piece for an apartment he was building on Central Park West. For this work I was inspired by a winter evening spent entranced by Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 5 in B flat major at Carnegie Hall. Cradled by the rhythm I let myself wander through the architecture of the music and feast on the ornament of the hall. For a moment I understood the intangible. I recognized the structure of the linear pattern breaking through to become something sublime. For Schubert’s No. 5, I created a motif abstracted from the composer’s own written notation and carved them into white concrete. The motif penetrates the structural fabric of the concrete embedding itself in the space. A translation of the emotive language of music, encapsulated in the frozen time of an architectural material.