Fort Collins Weekly
Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Crowning Glory
By Nicola Grun


Fans of minimalist art and design practices are invited to wander through Ordinary Glory, a collection of "barely there" art by Christina Craigo. Ordinary Glory is a collection of an award-winning crown, installations and patterned paper hangings. Color is almost invisible in this artist's creations.


"I am more interested in showcasing the material's inherent tendencies ... light and shadow play a very important role," Craigo says. "What happens around and through these works is as important as what I do intentionally."


The 2004 Rocky Mountain Biennial exhibition winner creates art from a polyester film called Duralar, as well as paper, nylon line, water and glass. Craigo's choice of titles is especially interesting. An example is Chosen (Like Daisies), the first-prize winner at the Biennial exhibition. Craigo usually titles the pieces last and uses them to make her work more accessible to an audience. The first titled word has a connotation of nobility or royalty, and the second word resembles something in nature that is commonplace, or humble. "The titles refer to grandeur and power as evidenced in the least of nature's offerings," states Craigo, adding that her art is indirectly inspired by American poet Walt Whitman, who used down-to-earth language. "Whitman is talking about things that are close at hand and signify those that are much more grand."


"I think the use of her titles is not always obvious to the viewer," agrees gallery director Jeanne Shoaff. "It gets the viewer asking why these two words were put together." She interprets Craigo's Fortitude (Like Family): three crowns fit inside one another and each crown represents a family member. The family provides fortitude and protects one another, but "it's up to the viewer to make those connections," she says.


Elsewhere, delicately patterned sheets of paper and Duralar hang on the gallery walls. Craigo pricked these sheets with pins and needles and also used a sewing machine. Some sheets have been pricked from the inside out. Pattern and design are evident because the artist has either chosen to densely pattern a small area and leave open space, or pattern a large area and leave a small open space. Light shines through these tiny holes, producing interesting shadows on the wall. Craigo's crowns are similarly patterned.


A corner room of MOCA is dedicated to a fun installation titled And the Running Blackberry Would Adorn the Parlors of Heaven. A long sheet of Duralar hangs on the room's walls, spreading across all corners. Shapes resembling foliage leaves and stems with blackberries on the ends have been cut out and cast shadows on the wall. These shadows change depending on the viewing angle.


Craigo is attracted to other transparent materials, such as water, and in particular, how light travels through the liquid. She arranged a circle of small glass goblets and containers and filled them with water. The artist states that if she can make other people walk out of the show and pay attention to small things on their dinner table, she will have given the gift she intended. Craigo invites the light to participate in creating the artwork and hopes to convey how wonderful small details, like shadows, can be.