Grad student nabs $30,000 art prize

Susan Du

Second-year graduate student Cameron Crawford’s portfolio of sculptures and photography collages won the 2011 Claire Rosen and Samuel Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists.

The prize, which also includes $30,000, is meant to recognize the creative potential of amateur artists and to provide them with the means to jump-start their careers.

Crawford said he was surprised, humbled and just a little terrified to receive the prize, which will provide him with the opportunity to create three large sculptural installations and three books in the course of the next year. He said he is also planning to move to New York City after he receives his degree in June.

“New York offers a greater concentration of material and intellectual resources for artists,” Crawford said. “It’ll be a chance for me to broaden – and not necessarily change – the location of my practice.”

Art theory and practice prof. Judy Ledgerwood said the Claire Rosen and Samuel Edes Foundation Prize is the only one in the county that helps artists in the crucial beginning stages of their careers when many may get derailed by the pressures of earning a living.

“This award allows the artist to focus on the one thing most important to them: their art,” Ledgerwood said. “For Cameron, and the other artists who received this award from the other schools, it is a dream come true.”

Crawford’s sculptures are abstract and minimalist, often featuring symbolic forms and shapes. Reinforced concrete, wood, terry cloth, silicone and eye-shadow are only some materials he uses to express themes of exploring love and death. In his 2008 work, “Conversation Death: don’t go to bed (death) easy, light,” juxtaposed materials and patterns imply forces of animosity.

“My work is very difficult, impossible even, to grasp with quickness and clarity,” Crawford said regarding the abstract nature of his art. “And that’s intentional. A lot of my work deals with holding viewers and objects at a certain distance. When people approach something that doesn’t offer a single meaning but they choose to engage with it anyway, the relationship offers important ethical questions. It’s an act of love to acknowledge another entity’s separateness as an end in itself.”

According to his personal website, Crawford grew up in Seattle and received his bachelor’s degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was co-founder and co-director of the Brown Triangle Gallery exhibition space in Chicago.

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