ROBERT CROWELL CONNECTS WITH ST. ANDREW’S ASPIRING ARTISTS
Students, staff, and visitors to the St. Andrew’s North Campus have been captivated by the new sculpture that graces the green space next to the Christopher and Stephanie Scott Outdoor Gathering Area between the McRae Science Center and the Walker Resource Center. The piece was created by Jackson artist Robert Crowell as a tribute to Rebecca Collins, St. Andrew’s former director of institutional advancement. Crowell also loaned St. Andrew’s four smaller but equally striking pieces for display in the St. Andrew’s administrative area. St. Andrew’s Upper School art students had the opportunity to learn more about Crowell and his work this winter, when the sculptor took time away from his studio to visit three St. Andrew’s art classes and share the techniques and the inspiration behind his work. Crowell left the aspiring artists with sage advice from a working sculptor. “Realize that it’s your art. You can’t really do anything wrong, so be bold about it. Sometimes what you like might not be what others like, but as an artist, you have to like your own work.” Crowell enjoyed a successful career as a CPA and businessman, but he was always drawn to art. While still working fulltime in the business world, he began an indepth, independent study of art and art history, reading extensively and visiting museums and galleries nationwide to study various artists, art forms, and media. He soon realized he had an artist’s eye for seeing the possibilities in raw material. “I was approaching 50, and I decided that if I was ever going to ‘do’ art, I’d better start,” Crowell says.
Crowell moved from studying art to creating it, experimenting with plaster, clay, wood, marble, concrete, and other media. He pursued his passion as diligently as he had pursued his business career, learning how to use the tools best suited for each medium. Crowell traveled to Italy to study marble carving and enrolled in a welding course at Hinds Community College to learn how to work with steel. He reinvested the money he began making from selling his sculptures into more tools used in his craft, and gradually transitioned out of the business world and into a career as a fulltime artist. “I’m grateful for my years in business, as those successes are what allow me to create art fulltime, and to focus on creating sculptures that I liked instead of pieces that I hoped would sell,” Crowell says. “My work is for sale, but that’s not why I create it. I feel so fortunate just to be able to work as a fulltime sculptor.” While his sculptures have been displayed in galleries, Crowell prefers inviting guests to his Jackson studio to see his large pieces; the size and scope of his works typically require them to be displayed outside, which brings the added benefit of giving admirers the space to walk around the sculptures and view them from every angle. While Crowell still sculpts for his own pleasure, he also enjoys seeing others drawn to his work. “Creating art is a way of saying, ‘I was here,’” Crowell says. “Once someone has a piece of your sculpture, they have a little piece of you. I like to think that those who buy my work think of me whenever they walk past it.” 8
Published on May 22, 2014
Published on May 22, 2014
Archways is the flagship publication from St. Andrew's Episcopal School, an independent, coeducational, preparatory day school serving stude...