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Artist's Statement

Marcea Crawford

Street art is for everyone, a public good. It hums in the background of our shared spaces and speaks to us every day. Its voice can be a whisper, gently reminding us who we are and guiding our day-to-day interactions. Or it can scream, and stand out, and reflect back to us the important realities that we all need to face. I believe the role of art is to show us or evoke in us things we don’t know, and maybe can’t even articulate. Street art either com- missioned or illegal is unapologetically in our face and teaches or provokes or simply beautifies our lives.
Some may look down on street art as lesser, or less important, or not “real” art. But what could be more real and more impactful than sharing artistic truths to everyone; regardless of social status or economic background. What greater gallery could one adorn than that which can been seen and appreciated by all. In fact, street art may well be one of the only ways that some will appreciate the visual arts. Many children and adults from low-in- come households will never visit an art museum or step foot into a carefully curated gallery. My mission is to bring the enjoyment of art out from behind museum and gallery walls to where it is more accessible, into our local neighborhoods. This is why I include a museum-style informational placard next to each piece; as a nod to the typical art viewing experience. It is also why I use low-cost wheat paste murals: artistic insight can be shared regardless of limited budgets or funding cuts. The fleeting nature of this type of mural is a bonus for me. The non permanence lends itself to my personality of finicky taste and over criticism of what I create.


I begin the design process of my murals with pencil sketches that I outline with ink. I add watercolor then photo- graph the art. I adjust the color and add text and texture to create the final look. I then print 24-inch “wallpaper” versions of the final images that get pasted on location. Murals typically stay on the wall for 3 to 6 weeks until I return to remove the work with no lasting damage or discoloration to the surface. 

My most recent work for the 2020 UMA Thesis Show will include 5 large-scale (8 feet) wheat paste murals that will adorn the outside brick wall of Katz Library and Jewitt Hall in May (or when deemed safe to hold the show). These pieces are a study of my personal experience with domestic abuse. They are retrospective portraits of my life during and after that time. From afar they are pretty pictures, much like the life I had portrayed, with a cute little family and fake happiness. However, when one observes more closely, the words within the murals have a more serious tone and tell the darker story of my experience. I should note that in this text, I tried not to edit or censor my first instinct in order to share an honest depiction of my feelings and thoughts regarding this time in my life. The animals and symbols used are also important. The peacock/phoenix represents myself overcoming and being reborn out from the cycle of abuse. The cycle includes (1) tension building, (2) abuse, (3) reconcilia- tion, (4) a period of calm and false hope. In my experience, an abuser must maintain the balance of abuse and reconciliation -- it can even be addicting to the victim (sometimes the victim may even purposely trigger an abuse in order to relieve the building tension, which has become unbearable). The dragon represents my strength for leaving the relationship and persisting through the humiliating, terrifying, and utterly exhausting parade of custody battles, divorce proceedings, and criminal trial. The dragon protects the vulnerable female during this terrible time. The storm represents the whirlwind of emotions and damage that still rages. The darker color pal- ette evokes sorrow and loss, and the clouds and rain are a literal representation of the internal storm -- 12 years of internalized abuse contaminating my sense of self and infecting the very voice in my head. For what it’s worth, this is my next battle: remembering how to love and trust myself. Finally, the fairy-tale couple embracing speaks to the deep toxic bond that forms between victim and abuser. There are feelings of complete dependency and ad- miration when one relies on the other to tell them what to think, how to feel, and what to do. It’s very damaging, and in my opinion, is one of the reasons it is so difficult for many victims to leave their abusers. The image also represents how a seemingly perfect couple can hide a horrible truth. 

Some artists I follow for inspiration are Crystal Wagner, Swoon, Shepard Fairey, Robert Rauschenberg, Hyman Bloom, Aubrey Beardsley, and Janet Lee. 

See more of Marcea's work on social media.

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