Artist Daniel Crawford’s recent experience is just one example of how Greenville’s Metropolitan Arts Council supports local artists. This year, Crawford was anonymously sponsored by someone at MAC to participate in Open Studios.

“They paid for everything, which is great,” Crawford says. “It’s very typical of the Greenville art community — people seeing and reaching out and supporting other artists.”

Crawford has been in Greenville for about three years, and has had his studio at White Whale Studios for that entire time. While many of his White Whale counterparts have participated in years past, Crawford says he’s looking forward to his first year.

“I’m really excited to debut in that sense and show off what I’ve been working on,” he says.

Crawford says he is most comfortable working with the natural world and draws much of his inspiration from that.

“I think my work this year kind of takes rules from nature and riffs on it, and you’ll see very organic shapes and ideas from nature and then very design-driven patterns and colors that are influenced from that background,” he says. “That contrasts well and brings an interesting energy and edge to these pieces.”

Crawford says that, as a design student, he has a deep appreciation for both worlds — design and fine art — but feels they are often pitted against one another.

“It’s something that I felt like I may grow out of or was even being encouraged to grow out of as an artist,” Crawford says. “I was straddling that line between design and fine art, but it’s a broad spectrum. I felt pressured to kind of choose one way or the other. Really, I don’t think you have to choose. They can be blended and mixed together, and there is no point in following a strict set of rules. You can even create more-interesting things if you are willing to experiment and have fun with the two.”

This has led Crawford to experiment with his style of art.

“I’ve given myself more space to enjoy experimenting and the process and putting together kind of a tool box for techniques and color palettes,” he says. “I’ve been trying to treat the studio like it’s a lab and taking time to experiment.”

The result is a blend of fine art, design, and even architecture.

“This body of work is a lot of construction, almost architecturally. My dad is a woodworker so I always grew up around that, but didn’t utilize it until a year or two ago,” he says. “I have been able to build custom frames and elements of the piece. This body of work is very 3D and architectural.”

Once the architectural elements are created, he says he looks at the color and design.

“I build from there until it feels right and balanced,” Crawford says. “There’s a lot of adding and subtracting, but I am enjoying that more experimental process where I can play around and have fun. It makes a more joyful process. I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun making pieces than I have making pieces for this body of work and Open Studios.

“I’ve only really just begun dipping my toes in the water of MAC and the community that [it has] brought together is amazing,” he adds. “The way that they have supported us and make resources available, and the crowd that they draw in is so vital for us in Greenville. They provide opportunities that no one else can provide.”


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