Debbie Crawford – Mixed Media Artist
Finding the beauty in everything
Debbie Crawford is a mixed media artist from Raleigh. Although she’s never had an art class, she says, “It’s just something I’ve always been passionate about.” Her passion for art comes out not only in conversation, but also in the way she manages her day-to-day. Crawford is a busy woman. She’s the mother of four children, she works at the karate studio she and her husband own, she is involved in various other business opportunities, and she is working towards her master’s degree in counseling, yet she still finds time to pursue this passion daily. “During the day and late at night is my time to create,” she explains.
“I’ve always been interested in mixed media,” Crawford says. “It really started out by collecting junk. Other people’s trash turned into my treasures.” She can take anything and transform it into art, and she rarely throws anything away. “Something that has been discarded can also be something so beautiful. It can be transformed.”
Crawford allows her materials to take on a life of their own and tell their own stories. “Everyone has a story to tell,” she says, “and even if it’s coming from a discarded swatch or photo, it can still have a story to tell forever.” Therefore, one of Crawford’s missions in her artwork is to find a story to tell. As she sets out on a new piece, she never has a predetermined mission to create something in particular. Instead, she lets the beauty of her objects do the work for her.
“I feel that my purpose is to create and show that there is so much beauty in everything and everyone,” Crawford says. “We have stories that can connect us with other people, stories that can connect us with our environment, and my mission is to share that with others.”
A lot of Crawford’s pieces are made out of recycled paper, old or unused fabrics, items from nature, and old photographs. “I’ve incorporated old photos into a series of I call my ‘Comin’ and Goin’’ series that’s tracking the black migration.” This series began after Crawford’s mother passed away. As Crawford sorted through old photographs, she found one of her mother at the beach in 1962 when the beaches were still segregated. “So this whole finding one object,” Crawford says, “transformed into a whole series of finding more photos.” Crawford started by splashing the canvas with color, incorporating the photo, and allowing it to take a life of its own. She added small sections of a discarded screen to further show the separation and segregation of the time. Then she added words to bring the message home: “Stepped in the water and it chilled my soul.” The painting became about the Wade-Ins during the Civil Rights Movement. These were similar to the Sit-Ins at the time, only they occurred at the beach. Movement. The piece shows both tranquility and turmoil. “They’re at the beach, and it’s fun, but there is so much controversy going on at the same time,” Crawford says. Each piece in the “Comin’ and Goin’” series shows another part of the black migration.
In addition to creating artwork, Crawford also enjoys hosting creative workshops for women. These workshops allow women to explore art and discover their own creativity. It allows them to spend some time outside of their everyday lives and “just come and play and create.” In addition, it helps these women build confidence in themselves and their creative abilities. Crawford says, “[The workshops] are needed at this time to deal with the stress that people are experiencing and pull away to get their minds off of things and be creative.” The women create collage art on tiles.
Crawford’s own artwork can be found in various locations. She has been entering her jewelry into several shows, and her artwork has been displayed at Port City Java and the Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex. In addition, she has also had her work in an art exchange.
All of Crawford’s artwork is for sale. Jewelry starts at $15. She also sells tiles, custom mirrors, note cards, post cards, and decoupage furniture. Her paintings start at $350.