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Work Samples

Anchovy Dance

Oil on Linen, 50" x 38"

Canna Seed Baskets

Oil on Canvas, 50" x 35"

Visible Strings (Magnolia)

Oil on Linen, 62" x 36"

Unraveling Sea Oat

Oil on Canvas, 62" x 36"

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About Pamela

Baltimore City

Pamela Crockett's picture
Pamela Crockett is best known for her large-scale oil paintings of small, natural decaying objects in active environments. In them, she imbues inanimate objects with life, and her attention to texture invites the viewer for a closer look. A former fellow in residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and recipient of the Olssen Faculty Incentive Award, Pamela has been teaching art and painting since receiving her Master of Fine Arts and Masters of Arts degrees from the University of... more

DANCE OF DECAY

According to The Washington Post review, May 10, 2019: "The vivid colors and shimmering facets of Pamela Crockett’s oil paintings are not meant to be glamorous. Not exactly, anyway. . . . In these snapshots of messy metamorphosis, some forms appear eternal."

Intrigued by decomposing pods, unraveling bulbs, and dried aquatic fragments, I study their patterns and textures. Back in the studio I view them dissected under a magnifying glass. Their patterns of decay echo the invisible forces controlling their movement. Paradoxically these delicate remains of life reflect both the fragility and the vitality of the earth and its oceans.

These paintings contain my fears and my hopes in response to our current climate- changing, socio-political, and geographic-global movements. The earth I have always depended on is undergoing dramatic change. And yet, the patterns of decay are constantly surprising me. The somewhat oxymoronic nature of the terms “still life” and “nature morte” seem appropriate in my observation. For me, even decaying life is active, and dead nature lives.

Ambiguity of space in these paintings suggests that what is inside can seem larger than the container itself. My attempts to contain a greater space within a smaller are reminiscent of the tiny, winged casing of the maple seedling that contains the potential for an entire tree. The borders hold the objects; yet most of them cannot help but push outside these boundaries or spill back inside the frames. Making use of the seedlings, nuts, and bulbs I have collected in the studio, I often dip them in paint and use them to create the textures in the borders. The driving forces behind the images are rhythm and movement. I imagine that as a leaf falls from a tree, when it swirls and twists in its dance of decay, it gets only one shot to make its descent memorable.

BOXED BEGINNINGS

Repurposed boxes, drawers, and card catalogues contain the seeds, nuts, and pods I observe in the large oil paintings for "Dance of Decay."

  • Sargassum Flotation Devices

    Flotation Devices Stored in Drawer 11.5" x 8" Repurposed Drawer containing oil paint on panel, Sargassum seaweed in varnish, Mandarin orange netting, foam, and thread
  • Chestnut Family

    Oil paint and mixed media on box and panel, found objects including Chestnut hulls, wire, and brown beads, 16" x 16"
  • Dropping Buckeye Box

    Oil paint and mixed media on panel and box, Buckeye hulls in varnish, wire, and brown wooden beads, 12" x 12"
  • Sweetgum Balls in Box

    Oil on linen/panel in box with Sweetgum pods in varnish, wire, and white and silver beads, 12" x 12"
  • Canna Seed Baskets and Painting

    Canna Lily Painting and Predella Upper: 14" x 14" Predella: 14.5" x 5" Upper: Oil paint on linen/panel Predella: Library card catalogue drawer, wire, Mandarin orange netting, Canna Lily seeds, black beads, wire, and pumpkin stems in varnish
  • Magnolia Family

    Oil paint on wooden box, Magnolia pods in varnish, wire, string, and red beads, 8" x 8"
  • Sweetgum Ball Pair

    Repurposed wooden drawer, oil on panel with Sweetgum pods, Mandarin orange netting, foam, wire, and red beads, 11" x 7"
  • Sweetgum Ball

    Sweetgum Ball Painting, Oil on Linen, 10" x 10"
  • Magnolia Pods in Box

    Oil paint on wooden box, Magnolia pods in varnish, wire, string, Mandarin orange netting, foam, and red beads, 8" x 8"
  • Flying Poplar Seed Birds

    Repurposed Meat Box with Poplar Seeds, 18" x 8"

DANCE OF DECAY (DETAILS)

These details show close-ups from the project, "DANCE OF DECAY."

MEMORY DRAWINGS

The memory drawings are found object collages with mixed media on Rives BFK paper. Included materials are cardboard slide mounts, sewn threads, antique hat pins, souvenirs, photos, and buttons. The repurposed objects are the odd bits and pieces that settle to the backs of household drawers, surviving the sifting of what gets used and what gets thrown away. They contain the memories and stories of their migration. The embroidery stitches control the movement in the drawings, and they attach the cardboard slide mount, an object obsolete today, yet essential for artist submissions in the past.

  • Key to the Interior

    26" x 21", Mixed Media on Rives Paper: Ink, Colored Pencil, Slide Mounts, Thread, House Key
  • Helical Motion

    24" x 16", Mixed Media on Rives BFK Paper: Ink, Colored Pencil, Slide Mounts, Thread, Souvenir broom, Pearl buttons
  • Geisha Memories (detail)

    (21" x 21"), Mixed Media Drawing,: Ink, colored pencil, pastel, red and gold thread, slide mount, photo, and souvenir Geisha comb on BFK paper.
  • Cascade in Purple

    26" x 18", Mixed Media on Rives BFK Paper: Ink, Colored Pencil, Slide Mounts, Thread, Bell, Beads, Cheerleader Pin
  • Fountain

    22" x 18", Mixed Media on Rives BFK Paper: Ink, Colored Pencil, Slide Mounts, Phots pieces
  • Slide Inside

    25" x 17", Mixed Media on Rives BFK Paper: Ink, Colored Pencil, Thread, Slide Mounts, Souvenir Drum, Buttons, Wire
  • Brown Penny

    30" x 22", Mixed Media on Handmade Paper: Three Pennies, Ink, Colored Pencil, Paint, Slide Mounts, Thread
  • Checks and Balances

    20" x 15", Mixed Media on Rives BFK Paper: Ink, Colored Pencil, Slide Mounts, Thread
  • SEWING BRANCHES

    Mixed Media Drawing, (14" x 12"), Ink, colored pencil, pastel, red and gold thread, slide mount, photo, beads on BFK paper.
  • Geisha Memories

    21" x 21", Mixed Media on Rives BFK Paper: Ink, Colored Pencil, Slide Mount, Photo, Thread, Souvenir Geisha hairpiece, Buttons

WINDOWS FOR OLIVER SACKS

Like selected works in my “Tactile Memories” series, some of these paintings have been included in "tactile" exhibitions, where the participants are encouraged to use sequential touch in exploring the artworks. Dedicated to writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks, the windows are inspired by one of his stories. During a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Sweetbriar, VA, I experimented with ways to mix the visual and the tactile. The neurologist's experience with various patients included one man who was virtually blind at an early age; later he had his vision restored as an adult. The story raised questions about how someone with limited vision might experience visual clues.

I began by placing on the panels various tactile objects such as sand, string, gauze, cotton, and fabrics. After layers of gesso and sanding, the textures were then covered with oil paint. The actual textures on the top of the oil-painted windows were complemented by the illusionary texture on the paper drawings below. With eyes closed, I began by rolling textured objects soaked in paint across large rolls of BFK paper. I moved the objects (e.g. nuts, seeds, sponges) through the paints without knowing what they looked like. Later, I cut the paper in sections and paired them with the oil paintings. The juxtaposition of the upper textured panels with the lower illusionary textures on paper is designed to challenge our usual modes of perception.

According to Sacks, "The rest of us, born sighted, can scarcely imagine such confusion . . . .we make our world through incessant experience, categorization, memory, reconnection . . . . But what [the man] saw had no coherence." (To See and Not See," The New Yorker May 10, 1993.) It was difficult to understand a simultaneous view when one was accustomed to a sequential view of the world.

EVERYDAY RELICS: ReCOLLECTIONS

  • Tumbling Crates

    (16" x 13") Oil paint on wood panel with mixed media
  • Sumerian Lyre

    (16" x 13") Oil paint on wood panel with found objects including copper wire
  • Beach Comber

    (16" x 13") Oil paint on wood panel with found objects including souvenir comb, cheesecloth, q-tip
  • Frozen in Time (for SeYeong)

    (16" x 13") Oil paint on wood panel with mixed media
  • Mary's Garden

    (16" x 13") Oil paint on wood panel with found objects including mother's coin collection, quilting and sewing pins, plasti-dip
  • Memory Melt

    (16" x 13") Oil paint on wood panel with found objects including watch parts, beads, copper wire, q-tip, cheesecloth
  • Everyday Relic

    Oil on Panel with found objects including copper and enamel rings
  • Arc Angle Relic

    Oil on Panel with found objects including calligraphy pen nibs

TACTILE MEMORIES

The images in this series are metaphorical containers for memories. As in Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, these mementos act as building blocks in “the vast structure of recollection.” Often personal, the objects embedded in the panels represent stories of family and friends. Included, for example, are fragments of souvenirs my grandparents brought me as a child. Several panels hold items I salvaged while emptying my mother’s apartment after she died. These everyday relics are the odd bits and pieces that settle to the backs of household drawers, surviving the sifting of what gets used and what gets thrown away. It becomes a game to recognize common objects hidden in the panels: objects that recollect the stories of their migration.

The exhibit contains about fifty images, each around twenty-two inches high. Texture is an important component, sometimes with actual textures and other times by the illusion of texture. Several of the pieces have been invited into “tactile” exhibits, in which visitors are encouraged to use sequential touch in exploring the artworks. Since many of the items are familiar, the game of recognition is also available to someone without vision.

Memories are tricky, just like the texture that is sometimes an illusion. As the stories are told, collected, retold, and recollected, they change. The story then takes the place of the memory, and as Proust explains it, “Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.” Building memories requires a strong imagination.

  • Three Rings for Sue

    (22" x 16") Oil paint on wood panel with found objects including curtain rings, Sue's beads
  • Barbecue Rust

    (16" x 13") Oil paint on wood panel with found objects including Bryan's rusted metal barbecue box
  • Ted's Lens

    (16" x 13") Oil paint on wood panel with found objects including Uncle's photo lens
  • Display Boxes

    (13" x 16") Oil on Panel with Found Objects
  • Bumps and Coils

    (16" x 13") Oil paint on wood panel with found objects including silver coils
  • Pandora's Box

    (16" x 13") Oil paint on wood panel with found objects including computer batteries and photo filters

GESTURAL PAINTINGS (60" x 36")

According to one critic, “Her fascinating work captures the elusive quality of objects which are obscured or are in motion. . . [Because the objects are frail, they invite close examination; the closer the viewer gets to the object, the more fragile it becomes, almost to the point of crumbling.] Only by acknowledging that it is unattainable can we celebrate with abandon the joy of its mystery.”

These large, gestural oil paintings on canvas and linen are about 60" tall by 36" wide. Most are drawn from literary references including mythology, history, and art history. Inspiration comes from dance, movement, and the moment of metamorphosis. Some favorite artistic inspirations are Vermeer, Velasquez, Breughel, and Bernini.

  • Waxen Wings

    Oil on canvas, 60" x 36"
  • Actaeon

    According to one critic, “Her fascinating work captures the elusive quality of objects which are obscured or are in motion. . . [Because the objects are frail, they invite close examination; the closer the viewer gets to the object, the more fragile it becomes, almost to the point of crumbling.] Only by acknowledging that it is unattainable can we celebrate with abandon the joy of its mystery.” These large, gestural oil paintings on canvas and linen are about 60" tall by 36" wide. Most are drawn from literary references including mythology, history, and art history.
  • Open Window and Vessel -

    (Oil on canvas 60" x 36")
  • Teresa's Shell -

    Dancer Anne-Alex Packard describes this painting: “All that remains is the shell of her body; the rest is gone” Although the figures are loosely borrowed from the Baroque sculpture by Bernini. I am mostly interested in how the saint herself was experiencing the ecstacy. She explains her rapture in "Life of St. Teresa of Avila by Herself." “At times resistance has been impossible; my soul has been carried away, and usually my head as well, without my being able to prevent it.”
  • Bound Trapeze

    Oil paint on Canvas, 60" x 36"
  • Exploding Vermeer

    Oil on canvas, 60" x 36"

ACTIVE STILL LIFE (NOISY SE-BUTSU)

Active Still Life: Noisy Se Butsu

These photographs and works on paper are inspirations for my paintings and convey the "Active Still Life."

Many academic artists work from arbitrary objects, which they place on a table, in order to observe the effects of light, shadow, form, and color. In English, we call this collection of objects a “Still Life.” In French it is called “Nature Morte.” An art student I met told me the Japanese translation for still life is “Se-Butsu,” which roughly means “quiet objects.” The somewhat oxymoronic nature of these terms intrigues me. I call my still life studies “Noisy Se-Butsu” because for me, the still life is active, the quiet objects are noisy, and dead nature still has life in it.

  • Three Chairs: Se Butsu

    "Three Chairs" is an archival Epson inkjet print in three panels, each is 28" x 16"
  • Tumbling Red Crates 2

    “Tumbling Crates” captures the point of perfectly balanced milk crates that were teetering of the edge of collapse. Adding one more crate to the stack resulted in its falling. I tried to capture the static balance and the tumbling movement at the same time. Balance is not static.
  • Tumbling Red Crates 1

    "Tumbling Red Crates" is a series of archival Epson inkjet prints. Measuring 28" x 16", the prints convey the "Active Still Life." I was interested in finding the point of perfectly balanced milk crates that were teetering of the edge of collapse. Adding one more crate to the stack resulted in its falling. I tried to capture the static balance and the tumbling movement at the same time.
  • Three Chairs: Se Butsu (detail 3)

    "Three Chairs" is an archival Epson inkjet print in three panels, each is 28" x 16. “Nataraja’s Belt” - While driving down the highway, I noticed a moving truck that had two blue packing straps caught in the back doorway. As the truck drove along, the two blue straps were flapping in a frenzied dance together. I loved the movement they created, and tried to reproduce it by flipping two blue ribbons in front of the stacked dormitory furniture as I shot the photos.
  • Three Chairs: Se Butsu (detail 2)

    "Three Chairs" is an archival Epson inkjet print in three panels, each is 28" x 16"
  • Three Chairs: Se Butsu (detail 1)

    "Three Chairs" is an archival Epson inkjet print in three panels, each is 28" x 16"

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Pamela's Curated Collection