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Fractal

2021-05-26T17:24:44+00:00

Fractal

Crown’s Fractal series are maps of themselves. They represent portions of the artist’s original Helicopter Drawings (2010-12), made by Crown while in the air over the mountains in South Africa in an attempt to visually capture the visceral feeling of flying in a helicopter. The constant movement of the craft, turning, climbing, descending rapidly, hovering, coupled with the wind, affected the mark. The record of the pressure of Crown’s hand on the pen and paper is the index of her experience. 

Scans of Helicopter Drawings were transferred into 3D depth sketches, which were then magnified several thousand times to reveal a fractal pattern. These relief forms convert lines into volume. The resulting prints, etchings, drawings, and paintings fold analog and digital mark-making together, generating a sense of relational uncertainty for the viewer.

Everything begins with a mark on the page. With these marks, we are asked to look closer.

Making of a Fractal Mirror

Unanchored Coordinates, 2015, laser-etched mirrored glass, 43 1/2 x 57 x 1/4 in

Fractal on Mirror, 2014, inkjet print on glass, 27 1/2 x 36 1/4 x 1/8 in

Infinity Mirror 3 Panel, 2015, mirrored glass, 99 x 90 in

Infinity Mirror, 2015, laser-etched mirrored glass, 34 5/8 × 50 13/16 × 2 3/4 in

Arrays (Fractal), 2015, inkjet print and acrylic on paper mounted on Dibond, 59 3/4 x 79 x 1 1/2 in

Fractals on Canvas – Ink Jet – 2, 2014, inkjet print on canvas, 59 1/8 x 78 3/4 in

Fractal on Canvas, inkjet print on canvas, 59 x 78 in

Fractal Blue, 2020, acrylic and digital pigment print on flex gessoed Belgian linen, 79 7/8 x 59 1/8 in

Resilience

2021-06-10T20:28:29+00:00

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.

Phantasmagoria

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

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+00:00

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.

Buddha

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

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.

ANEMOS

2020-09-28T13:34:45+00:00

ANEMOS

"The air was darkened by the heavy rain whose oblique descent, driven by the rush of the winds, flew in drifts through the air... But it was tinged with the colour of the fire kindled by the thunderbolts by which the clouds were rent and shattered, and whose flashes revealed the broad waters of the inundated valleys..." - Leonardo Da Vinci 

Derived from the Latin root meaning breath, animus, and the Sanskrit Anilas, Paula Crown’s project, ANEMOS, takes its name from the Greek word for wind, exploring invisible forces and moments in time. Crown pushes her ongoing exploration of the limit of human mark and gesture by undertaking the impossible challenge of capturing the wind.

In the first stages of material exploration, the challenge was to freeze the heavy mesh and then create volume. Made of stainless steel chain mesh, Crown used the chain mesh as a drawing tool. Similar to a pencil or marker, she manipulated the mesh on a flat surface to create a 2D image. The pliability of the material was perfect for capturing the connection between thought and gesture. It allowed for spontaneous changes in composition while keeping its shape. Working with Prototype New York, the resin was then applied to the final object to set and hold the drawing in place.

Tina Kukielski, Executive Director of Art 21, wrote of the finished works, “These moments of capture suggest that time is a dictator of human experience. Yet in their seriality, repetition, and difference Crown reveals that this logic is not the only answer. (…) these drawings in space remind us that the moment that something translates from mirage to manifestation, from concept to form, from chance to purpose, that is only the beginning of real knowing.”

ANEMOS has been realized through Crown’s solo exhibition at Marlborough Gallery in New York in 2015, and more recently at the Limelight Hotel in Ketchum, Idaho.

ANEMOS 4 (+), 2016, stainless steel chain mesh and resin

ANEMOS 2 (+), 2016, stainless steel chain mesh and resin

Helicopter Drawings

2021-05-21T17:50:25+00:00

HELICOPTER DRAWINGS

“These days, Crown calls it ‘tricky’ to stick her with a label. Tricky, she says, ‘because it’s confusing to people. I tell people it’s really about the drawing, the mark, the mark-making … Everyone can make a mark.’”

—Michael Granberry, The Dallas Morning News, April 8, 2016

The Helicopter Drawing series was made by Crown while in the air over the mountains in South Africa in an attempt to capture visually the visceral feeling of flying in a helicopter. The resulting imagery captures moving through time and space. The constant movement of the craft, turning, climbing, descending rapidly, hovering, coupled with the wind, affected the mark. The record of the pressure of Crown’s hand on the pen and paper is the index of her experience. Scans of the drawings registered the relative amounts of ink absorbed by the paper; thus the peaks and valleys are the landscape of her body in flight.

The resulting digital images continue to be a generative source of her practice, influencing the PERforation series, Fractal drawings and paintings, BEARINGS DOWN and The Landscapes Within the Landscapes.

ALPHABRAVO

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

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+00:00

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.

Bomber

2020-09-29T19:27:00+00:00

Bomber

Crown’s father was a navigator in the early years of the Cold War, flying reconnaissance trips over the north pole. He flew in a B-29, the same type of aircraft tragically used in the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Crown’s father flew by the stars at night and landmarks during the day. He was part of an elite group called the pole jumpers. His snapshots from this time inspired the Bomber series, exploring the complexity of navigation with limited instrumentation.

Understanding history through her father’s lens affected Crown profoundly and led her to investigate concepts of bearings, exploration, and locating oneself in the story through this series. Crown re-printed the photograph of his plane onto a mirrored stainless steel surface. The impact of the piece is felt in part because of how the highly polished stainless-steel amplifies the dramatic horizontal diptych format. Working within the language of mechanical reproduction, Crown deliberately distances herself from the otherwise personal narrative of the image. And yet, the reflective surface draws the viewer into the narrative instead. The viewer is forced to reimagine themself within the context of the B-29 cockpit, the environment where the devastating bombs were released. Recognizing ourselves within this scenario, the artist confronts the viewer with the question: What would you do?

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