Student Spotlight: Student artist Alice Crow 22 creates multi-layered, multi-media works

Crow works as both an artist and an intern at the Hood Museum of Art where she is curating an upcoming exhibition.

by Alexandra Surprising | 46 minutes ago

“Tuesday” by Alice Crow, acrylic and ink.

Source: Courtesy of Alice Crow

Alice Crow ’22 produces abstract works that deal with themes of the subconscious and nature. Dual majoring in studio art and history, Crow currently works as a campus engagement intern at the Hood Museum of Art, where she helps connect students to the museum and organize an upcoming exhibition.

Although still passionate about art, Crow began to seriously consider majoring in studio art during her freshman year at Dartmouth. After taking a few art classes, Crow’s focus shifted from representational work – a more traditional style of art that focuses on accurate representation of the real world – to abstraction as she walked away of the portrait and towards multimedia painted pieces.

“When I started painting on my own, and not just for class homework, [my work] quickly became abstract,” Crow said. “I love doing representational work, but if I give up and see what I’m painting, it’s abstract. It’s almost out of control that way I can’t slow myself down enough to do something representative.

In her work, Crow builds layers of light using a variety of mediums: acrylic paint, drawings, lettering, and collages with photographs. She aims to produce a dynamic relationship between these layers by including “organic” and “industrial” elements in her pieces.

“I would describe my work as using overlapping layers of organic and industrial shapes,” Crow said. “There are rhythmic or pattern-based processes as well as more organic and uncontrolled processes. I combine these two processes to create a kind of competition.

Courtesy of Alice Crow

“Untitled” by Alice Crow, acrylic on canvas.

Crow added that his pieces often incorporate natural forms that resemble water features, geological shapes and tree rings, although the features are open to interpretation by the viewer.

Crow’s longtime friend, roommate, and major studio art colleague, Ronnie Ahlborn ’22, said the methods involved in Crow’s art reflected his development as an artist.

“Everything she’s done up until this year has built a new layer in her work,” Ahlborn said. “[There are] pen drawings she used to do in high school and first grade, and these really stand out with her current pieces. His writing was much more important in his work. Now, the writing is still very present but in a different way. It’s not quite as literal, but it’s there, and the emotion behind it is there.

Last fall, Crow worked on an independent study with studio art teacher Thomas Ferrara. Ferrara praised the sense of structure and rhythm in Crow’s art.

“She’s a great draftsman and her drawing is phenomenal,” Ferrara said. “His paintings have a very strong sense of structure as a result of that, but also a very strong sense of rhythm that moves the eye.”

During this independent study, Crow focused on moving to larger canvases, forcing her to convert smaller sketches to a larger scale.

Last fall, in addition to his independent study, Crow designed an upcoming exhibit at The Hood titled “Transcendent Landscapes: Abstracting Nature.” While researching for the exhibition, which included pieces by female abstract expressionists, Crow discovered that the exhibition’s central theme had influenced her own work.

“I’m preparing an exhibition that examines abstract landscape art and how artists use it to convey spirituality, either within themselves or in their connection to landscapes in a spiritual or metaphysical sense,” Crow said. “In my own experience, art has played a role in communicating my mind or my emotions, and I feel like I’m tapping into the subconscious, and that can be somewhat spiritual.”

Courtesy of Alice Crow

“Untitled” by Alice Crow, acrylic and charcoal.

After curating this exhibit, which will be on view in early March, Crow said she began thinking about the concept of automatism in art – essentially, when the hand, rather than the mind, guides a painting. By abandoning a more calculated approach, Crow can more freely and faithfully convey his subconscious.

“I never approach plays with a very clear concept… The process itself is kind of the point,” Crow said. “I often end up creating abstract landscapes or an abstract ‘mindscape’. In other words, because I don’t plan my work, it turns out to be a landscape of my mind.

Crow draws inspiration to express his mental landscape in the natural world.

“My work is a synthesis of what I feel around me,” Crow said. “I find what is most beautiful in nature. It’s my most obvious source of color, light and composition…and the world around me feels very natural and rural.

During the pandemic, while at home in New Hampshire, Crow was able to work more intensely on her work, which helped her fulfill her desire to pursue a career as an artist. For the future, she hopes to pursue an MFA a few years after graduation.

“I always felt that at the end of my life I would be an artist, but I initially expected to do something else first and then come back to it,” Crow said. “During the pandemic, it became increasingly clear…that I could find meaning in my life through making art.”

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