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sliding beneath the surface

“the space between land and sea”



nashville / 11 nov - 20 dec memphis / 18 nov - 20 dec


the land is already sea


the sea is a body in a thousand ways


Ghosts on the Water

drawn into a deeper shore I drawn into a deeper shore II drawn into a deeper shore III


he American poet Elizabeth Bishop said that when she read a poem, and the world looked like that poem for the next twenty-four hours, she could be sure it was a good one. The same can be said of Maysey Craddock’s paintings. After seeing her new series, Strand, the forms and landscapes linger in the mind, and one can’t help but see the world as she depicts it for quite some time afterward.

From mirrored trees to abstracted maps, Strand explores ideas of borders, reflection, and the changing landscape. This work is the first exhibition to span both David Lusk Gallery locations - Memphis and Nashville. Craddock references this split in the title itself. I’m thinking about “Strand” as a thread, a connecting line between two locations miles apart. The line as the delineating, unreachable place between land and sea, between reality and its mirror image. The paintings come together to form a new, vast and contemplative landscape: a place where the self unravels, expands, and diffuses. The color palette in many works is subdued and of the earth: terracotta, midnight, ivory, sunlight, sand. In others, like Ghosts on the Water and Clearing, Craddock channels a mercurial night sky through silhouetted forms, dark indigos, pitch blacks. To balance the darker pieces, she employs a warmer, lighter range for the light that traveled the shore and sliding beneath the surface. In the sea is a body in a thousand ways, the horizon line is turned vertical, creating an abstracted, somewhat human form. This slight, yet powerful alteration underscores our association of symmetry with our corporeal identity, and our tendency to anthropomorphize and empathize with certain shapes, despite our knowledge of what they truly are.

drifting back to you

shadow and light

The imagery in the show reveals reflection as a liminal space - reflection as symmetry but also interruption (ripples and currents disrupting the image). Reflected sky scatters like stones between the trees. In the reflection on the water, I am finding small events that shake the images. And in the symmetry of reflection, I am finding stillness and quiet that opens up a space where time compresses into the single present moment. Much of the imagery is culled from Craddock’s photographs of a real place: Perdido Bay, a natural sanctuary off the Alabama Coast. For her, Perdido (the bay but also the house that her grandmother built) is a place that, for now, maintains a rare, pristine tranquility. The land is virtually untouched by man, yet undoubtedly in the beginning stages of transformation. To use Craddock’s words, Perdido is a place “vacillating between disappearing and becoming.” Today the coastal land is threatened by forces of both man and nature: development, climate, erosion, harsh storms. What will remain of it in five, ten, twenty years time? Strand attempts to addresses this inevitability of change and entropy, by at once embracing and resisting it. Each work digs deeper into the questions of how we shape the landscape and how the landscape shapes us. I’m interested in the landscape of water/land as a site of constant change. Land disappears and is redeposited. A coastline is like an active ruin, constantly being reinvented. However, we (man) control this progression, desperately hemming in, reinforcing, engineering an illusory state of stasis. I’m documenting the diminishing ‘real’ that remains of the vanishing natural coast. These are pieces of coast that are not engineered, that remain wild. They are constantly shifting between water and land, vacillating between disappearing and becoming. Strand, like most of Craddock’s recent art, is a painstakingly process-driven body of work. Craddock collects brown paper bags, which she then unfolds, coats thinly with gouache, and stacks/presses until ready for use. Using silk embroidery thread, she meticulously stitches together the prepared bags to make her painting surface. The off-white stitching that weaves through each work gives us a sense of visual depth, while evoking ideas of reconstruction, mending, and rebuilding. The use of discarded paper bags in lieu of canvas or traditional artist paper, their deliberate strength and un-preciousness, underlines Craddock’s aesthetic and resourcefulness. The disjointed, quilt-like paperwork that results has a one-of-a-kind presence, and allows the work to exist in a unique space between painting and sculpture. There is a visible weight to them; they push up against you. The paintings become not only a window into another world, but sculptural objects in their own right. In Walden, Henry David Thoreau described the lake as the landscape’s most expressive feature. “It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” Such is the case in Craddock’s Strand. Water acts as an eye that looks back, echoes or mirrors the land above it. I’m thinking about mirroring and reflection in the landscape, and the idea of that visual zone between land and sea, where the land is becoming sea and the sea is becoming land. There is a term for the vertical area between high and low tide: littoral. This place of land-not-land and sea-not-sea. It is a border zone -- an in between place.

Each painting begins with an undoctored photograph of land reflected on water--or in the case of works like Coral Sea and Drifting Back to You, a map of Perdido Bay. From a printed enlargement of the image, she painstakingly creates a transfer drawing on carbon paper, outlining in pencil every curve, leaf, and ripple she chooses for the final painting. From those tracings, the line drawing is transferred by hand again to the paper-stitched surface. It is this tedious drawing and transferring process that allows the work to move away from the original photograph. It becomes a new thing entirely--transformed and dissociated from its original source. My work has always referenced borders and the in-between: liminal space. Places that become another kind of reality, that are slippages between here and there, past and present, between us and the beyond. Maybe there is some eternal sense of time, history, memory that gets captured in this space. Maybe paying attention to these images in the landscape situates us in the present moment in a new way. The exhibition’s uniquely Zen-like aesthetic seems to pull from a vast array of sources, from Japanese ukiyo-e prints to Rorschach tests. Above all, Strand seems to be a study of the complex human-nature connection and an inquiry into how our own perceptions shape our experiences of surroundings. The work underlines the idea that places matter. Specifically the quiet and contemplative places, the true escapes from our fast-paced, built world. By mirroring these still scenes and relaying the beauty of a small and specific part of earth, Craddock reminds us to appreciate the places where we are allowed to wander, in body and in spirit, for it is in these places that we discover our inner world, our true selves.

Sara Estes & Maysey Craddock David Lusk Gallery

the land is already shadow

Strand series

the light that traveled the shore

Coral Sea

Stitching sand and sea


sliding beneath the surface, 2014, gouache and thread on found paper, 49x62” the land is already sea, 2014, gouache and thread on found paper, 35x59.75” Bloom, 2014, gouache and thread on found paper, 54.5x39” the sea is a body in a thousand ways, 2014, gouache and thread on found paper, 48x33” Clearing, 2014, gouache and thread on found paper, 35x54” Ghosts on the Water, 2014, gouache and thread on found paper, 49x36.5” drawn into a deeper shore I, II, III, 2014, gouache and thread on found paper, 48x63” ea drifting back to you, 2014, gouache and thread on found paper, 18.5x14” shadow and light, 2014, gouache and thread on found paper, 33x48” the land is already shadow, 2014, gouache and thread on found paper, 50.75x63.5” Strand Series, 2014, ink, mixed media, dimensions vary the light that traveled the shore, 2014,gouache and thread on found paper, 66x47” Coral Sea, 2014, gouache and thread on found paper, 21.25x17.5” Stitching sand and sea, 2014, gouache and thread on found paper, 52.25x35.5” Ebb Tide, 2014, gouache and thread on found paper, 21x26”

front cover: Ghosts on the Water back cover: Ebb Tide

David Lusk Gallery exhibits and sells art created by a talented group of artists – living in the Midsouth and beyond. The artwork at DLG defines the creative spirit, diversity and excitement of our region. DLG originally opened its doors in 1995 in Memphis with a commitment to exhibiting art that is well crafted, always intriguing, sometimes meditative and frequently thought provoking. DLG’s unique program and vision have made it a recognized destination for what is current and important in art of the Southeastern US. The Gallery is located in the heart of East Memphis, at Laurelwood. In early 2014 the Gallery opened an outpost in Nashville in the happening Wedgewood/Houston Neighborhood.”

© 2014 David Lusk Gallery. Artist Maysey Craddock and the Gallery retain sole copyright to the contributions to this book. 4540 poplar memphis 901.767.3800 516 hagan nashville 615.780.9990


4540 poplar memphis 901.767.3800 901.767.3800 memphis 4540 poplar

516 hagan nashville 615.780.9990

615.780.9990 nashville

Profile for David Lusk Gallery

Maysey Craddock | Strand  

This fall Maysey Craddock exhibits Strand, new drawings, paintings, film and installation works, inspired by the illusory space between land...

Maysey Craddock | Strand  

This fall Maysey Craddock exhibits Strand, new drawings, paintings, film and installation works, inspired by the illusory space between land...