Last May 2020, 21c checked-in with Lexington-based Crystal to see how she was doing in the middle of lockdown. A year and a half later, we asked her again. Read on for her answers!
How are you feeling today? This week? This new year?
Crystal Gregory (CG): This year has been a lot. For everyone. I feel the most gratitude, the most proud, and the most precarious I ever have. This year has brought personal and communal struggles as well as familial and communal connections. It seems hard to hold all the contradictions in one body, but I think in that way it has expanded my emotional landscape and allowed me to grow.
What are you looking forward to doing this year in your art practice?
CG: I feel so lucky to be working on some of the biggest works of my career so far.
The first is a site-specific installation in a commercial building in San Antonio. I am building a hand-woven installation which will cascade from the 5th to the 11th floor staircase. Brightly colored threads are woven, vibrantly patterned in huck variations. Weighted in the valley of each drape are pockets of reflective metal. Layers of fabric plunge, fold and accumulate for a unique viewing at each vantage point.
For this project I have developed a new material combination that will debut in San Antonio. Utilizing ball chain as weft, I interlace the flexible metal with brightly colored cotton warp thread, creating a woven installation of draped fabric. The introduction of metal into the weaving gives weight to the valleys of each drape as well as glittering reflections of light embedded into an open fabric.
I am also working on a new series that will launch with Tappan Collective LA. In this new series I am harvesting natural dye and making dye baths of brightly colored local materials. The yarn is turning out beautifully ranging from golden yellows to magentas, blues and peaches. I will then take this material and weave on a digital jacquard loom combining digital weave structures with hand processed dyed yarns. The slowness of the dye process feels expansive paired with the quickness of the digital weaving process.
Lastly, I have been invited by the European Cultural Center in Venice, Italy to exhibit in a seven-month exhibition called Personal Structures that will coincide with the Venice Biennale. For this project I am proposing to collaborate with the Moving Architects and produce another work based on The Event of a Thread exhibited originally at 21c Lexington in early 2020. We are still in the planning stages, but our hope is to work with local dancers to create a movement piece that interacts with my woven installation.
What is your go-to food of choice these days? Any new recipes that you have tried that you are excited to make again?
CG: I am not sure if it is all the natural dye research I have been doing or becoming a new mom (my sweet son just turned 1-year-old), but I have been really into making herbal teas for me and my family. I love the ritual, the intent and the attention it requires to make someone (including myself) a combination of tea. I have been combining chamomile with lemon balm, nettle, and oat straw. My family loves it!
What are you reading or watching or listening to that you would recommend to others?
CG: Braiding Sweetgrass; Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. This book is so beautiful and has so many valuable lessons. I find it touching all parts of my life from studio to classroom to family.
Crystal Gregory is a sculptor whose work investigates the intersections between textile and architecture. Gregory received her BFA from the University of Oregon and her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago from the Fiber and Material Studies Department. In 2013 she was awarded The Leonore Annenberg Fellowship for the Performing and Visual Arts. With this grant, she moved to Amsterdam NL where she took a role as Guest Artist at The Gerrit Rietveld Academie of Art. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries nationally including Through the Thread at the Rockwell Museum of Art, Devotion/Destruction: Craft Inheritance at Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Projects, Load Barring: The Art of Construction at The Hunterdon Art Museum and Crossover at Black and White Project Space and has been reviewed in publications such as Hyperallergic, Surface Design Journal, Art Critical, and Peripheral Vision Press. Gregory is an Assistant Professor within the School of Arts and Visual Studies at the University of Kentucky and currently shows with Tappan Collective in Los Angeles, CA as well as Momentum Gallery, NC.
To learn more about Crystal’s work, check out her website https://www.crystalgregory.org and follow her on instagram @crystalirenegregory