Fan Mail: Maysey Craddock

For this edition of Fan Mail, Memphis-based artist Maysey Craddock has been selected from a group of worthy submissions. If you would like to be considered, please submit to a link to your website with ‘Fan Mail’ in the subject line. Two artists are featured each month—the next one could be you!

Maysey Craddock. "Rupture (ashes and light)." 2011. Gouache and thread on found paper. 38.5 x 51.5 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Maysey Craddock’s paintings are, without a doubt, immediately engaging.  Her bright, playful use of color in tandem with the distinctive textural quality of the paper she works with catches the eye straightaway. But one cannot genuinely understand the significance of Craddock’s new paintings without considering her surroundings in Memphis.

Located in an old medicine factory in downtown Memphis, Craddock’s studio is situated amidst empty warehouses, vacant parking lots and crumbling, desolate sidewalks. Her paintings nod to the industrial decline of this town, a subject that reflects her continued interest in the ever-evolving use of landscape and the traces of experience that remain in the absence of use. She explains, “[f]or 15 years, my work has referenced objects and spaces that continue their slow transformation after someone turns away…the crumbling structure with flowering vines pushing through, the drape and sway of a fence that separates nothing from nothingness, the silhouette of disuse.”

Maysey Craddock. "Sanctuary." 2011. Gouache and thread on found paper. 38 x 50 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Craddock photographs the decaying industrial landscape of Memphis and uses the resulting images as points of departure for these stunning, delicate paintings. Through meticulous tracing, drawing and layering of gouche, she transforms stark environments into vibrant abstractions that quietly conjure notions of collapse and detritus. She furthers this notion of the forgotten and discarded by using found paper as canvas, namely recycled grocery bags. Craddock diligently sews together these brown paper bags with silk thread, recontextualizing this quintessentially disposable material to highlight tenuous divide between the reclaimed and abandoned in these images.

Maysey Craddock. "Let Me Reword That." 2005. Typewriter, enamel, gouache, wood. 26 x 36 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

I was also excited by some of Craddock’s sculptural works from the mid-2000s that present whimsically deconstructed typewriters, reduced and contorted so as to suggest, but also resist evidence of their typical appearance and function. In Let Me Reword That (2005), painted parts of a typewriter are suspended precariously in space, casting abstract, almost floral-like shadows across adjacent walls. Like the collapsing buildings she alludes to in her paintings, these sculptures too suggest memories of the obsolete through their abstraction.

A number of these new paintings are currently on view in Maysey Craddock: Other Spaces at the Nancy Margolis Gallery in New York through October 15th.