Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York
Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?
I've been an artist ever since I can remember. I've been drawing, painting and sculpting from a very young age. My dad was a carpenter and my mother was a fiber artist, so I grew up with highly creative and supportive parents who helped to foster my artistic leanings . My father built me a doll house as a child and I would make all my own furniture. I even added carpet and wallpaper to decorate the interior. My painting skills led me to be recruited to help paint several murals in my home town when I was teenager. In high school I started taking ceramics classes which boosted my desire to pursue sculpture in college.
New work in progress, Garage set
What is your background? and how did it inform the focus of your creative exploration or the medium you're currently working with?
I studied ceramics at the University of Washington in Seattle, which was very informative to my current practice. This program focused on conceptual art ideas more than material. This allowed me to branch away from clay, and explore other processes which best expressed my desired intentions. With support from the faculty I began building with a variety of found objects, and eventually found that building with cardboard and hot glue was a quicker, and more economical way for me to construct with. I enjoyed altering cardboard to look like different materials, and eventually it became my primary medium.
New work ideas, folded and cropped images
Who were and are the biggest sources of your inspiration?
One of my biggest sources of inspiration came from a graduate student within the ceramics program at University of Washington, Tim Roda. I saw his MFA show when I was a freshman. It consisted of large photographs of constructed sets in domestic interiors. He used clay, found objects and dramatic lighting to create theatrical, magical scenes. Seeing this informed me that if I majored in ceramics I wouldn't be limited to clay. And today, highly influenced by Roda's work, I exhibit photographs of dioramas I create. I'm currently inspired by mid century modern architecture, and the work of Robert Adams, who photographed the American West.
Studio shot, work in progress of "Close Enough"
"Close Enough", from Series Real Spaces, 2020, Silver Gelatin print
Where do you find inspiration?
I find lots of inspiration from researching photographers such as Gordon Matta Clark, Robert Adams, Lee Friedlander, Stephen Shore, Robert Cumming, and Charles Sheeler. And more recently the work of Alex Yuzdon, and Kate Stone. I'm also influenced by living and working in Brooklyn, and am fascinated by the constant flow of construction, demolition and rebuilding within the big city. The work of comedian Julio Torres, called "My Favorite Shapes", has encouraged me to reimage how I crop my images, and has been the inspiration for a new body of work.
Work in progress, "Shower Scene"
"Shower Scene", from Series Real Spaces, 2020, Silver Gelatin print
Is there are a single work, project, or series that is pivotal in your current trajectory?
In undergrad I created my first cardboard model of a basement. I showed the piece as a sculpture. It did not get great reviews. As I was documenting the work, I realized the photographs did something magical that the physical sculpture did not. Through specific angles and lighting, I was able to create something uncanny. This ability to alter reality through images set me on my current path.
Squid, 2012, Pigment print, 40 x 60 inches
Fan, 2011, pigment print, 40 x 60 inches
How did it begin? and how did it evolve?
In my early work I used lots of animals in interior settings. I would create miniature taxidermied animals, to create fantastical scenes. In graduate school this work evolved away from animals, and more toward architecture and the pursuit to create uncanny images of mundane objects and spaces.
"Cactus and Lamp", from Series Real Spaces, 2019, Silver Gelatin print
What were important lessons in the process that you’ve carried forward with you?
Invest in good tools.
"My Eye in Brooklyn", from Series Real Spaces, 2019
What are you working on now?
I'm currently working on a series of images that will take place within the same diorama. I will do multiple shots within the same set, and experiment with changing the lighting and the objects within the space. This will be my first time doing a series of images of the same structure. Simultaneously, I'm learning to make popup designs as an approach for displaying my images in 3D form.
"Split", from Series Real Spaces, 2017, Silver Gelatin print
If you could go back in time to the very beginning of your art practice and give your younger self a single piece of advice what would it be?
Take more photographs of your surroundings.
"Interior Shadows", Series Real Spaces, 2019, Silver Gelatin print
About the Artist
Based in Brooklyn, New York
Robin Crookall is a 2021 finalist in The Print Centers, 95th Annual International Competition. In April 2021 she had a solo exhibition at Real Art Ways in Hartford CT. Fall 2020 she completed a residency and solo show at Penumbra Foundation in New York City. Crookall is a 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in photography from The New York Foundation for the Arts. In 2016, Crookall recieved her MFA from New York University. In 2007 Crookall completed her BFA at the University of Washington. Crookall has an upcoming exhibition in Unbound10, at Candela Gallery in Richmond VA, July 2021.
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