The mere act of talking to Rosson Crow ART ’06 can be quite disarming. Considering how young she still is (twenty four), and the buzz that has been steadily generating around her work for some time now (at twenty one, her thesis show was a sold-out success), one could forgive her a little grandiose self-satisfaction for her already considerable achievements. Instead, Crow is charming and engaging, refreshingly unconcerned with the hype that surrounds her name. One only has to look at her work — searing fluorescent renditions of desolate baroque interiors — to see that the art world’s anticipation is entirely well founded.
It is not just the vibrancy of the images that makes an impact on the viewer; the rococo fixtures seem to positively vibrate with urgent tension, as if they may burst aflame at any moment. The slurs and drips of the paint itself across their slick surfaces create an environment that seems to be collapsing in over-saturation, eating away at their historical sources like some virulent fantastic bacteria. As we sit on a bench in the foyer of the Yale School of Art, I ask Crow if the dialogue in her work is between the classical as the modern. Musing on this, her conclusion is that it is the spaces themselves that are being emphasized.
“I don’t see these spaces as necessarily historical spaces, they reference the past but they still exist,” Crow said. “These spaces today are things that you would see in museums or private palaces that are open to the public; they’ve become displays, taken out of context. They’re non functioning spaces.”
The role of space within Crow’s work has become more prominent throughout her development, having initially gained recognition for her works that combined her vibrant acid palette with baroque portraiture. As her graduation approaches, Crow feels as though she has a chance to take stock of the progress she has made.
“I feel like I’m kind of at this weird point in my work,” Crow said. “I’m almost done with my two years here, and its interesting to take a minute to take a step back and evaluate what you’ve been working towards, and where you want the work to go.” It’s not unusual for an artist to approach a point of transition at her graduation, but one gets the feeling it’s a transition Crow has already made.
In keeping with the accelerated nature of her rise to prominence, while most of her peers are aiming towards New York, Crow is already moving away. This summer she will move to Paris, closer to the old world that has formed the focus of her gaze for so long. Crow seems genuinely excited about moving to Paris, as she herself says: “I’m really looking forward to working through things over there.”
But there is no denying the move is a daring leap for such a young artist, away from an arts scene that has made her name. What was missing in New York? “There is a dissonance between New York and Europe right now,” Crow explained. “The New York arts scene is so crazy, so driven by money. Curators and collectors are always looking for the next big thing, and there’s always a thing for the young artists.” Such intense speculation so young may have helped Crow to thrive, but she points out that for many artists it can be unproductive.
“A lot of people aren’t taking risks, you see a lot of stuff that is very homogenous,” Crow said. “I hope that it’s different in Europe, it feels different, and I’m looking forward to going to galleries and just getting that cool vibe from the work again.”
Certainly Crow is aware of the negative impacts of her rise in prominence. “I feel its like a double edged sword because it’s great for young artists to get the chance to show, but it can be too much too soon. When you’re young you need to be able to take risks, be able to try things that don’t work and expand your vocabulary as an artist, and that is really hard to do when you are given so much so soon.” It’s great to talk to a young artist who is able to keep their work at the forefront of their goals and keep fame in perspective. As Crow’s work becomes more and more noticed by the mainstream, including a feature on her in last month’s Vogue, she is increasingly determined stay focused on creating new works that can be as accessible to the viewing public as they are enticing to gallery owners and high fashion magazines.
“I would like all people to enjoy looking at my work,” Crow said. “I don’t want it to be accessible only to people who know about art. I think that the work I’m interested in is more open than just to the art world.” Crow is also quick to point out the positive nature of such exposure: “I feel that fashion’s more influential on more areas of culture than art right now. How many fashion magazines are there? How many women are reading fashion magazines? Compare that to how many read art forum.” Has art become more trendy than it is relevant? Crow points out that art fulfils a different role: “It’s supposed to be an avant-garde. Fashion is more accessible, its self-referential, cyclical, but there isn’t that much to get. The art world is challenging.”
Perhaps that is the main reason Crow’s work is so consistently lauded — she is refreshingly unconstrained by what is fashionable or trendy, and from her interests in the baroque and gallant styles she has managed to create a style that is both referential and unique. When I ask her about her opinions of the other work in the show, she breaks into one of her many broad smiles. “It’s a really good class, I feel very fortunate to be part of it. There are some really intelligent interesting people making smart work, and some of them are really going to go far” — Crow certainly being one of them. Young, talented, charming and ambitious — not to mention gorgeous and impeccably dressed — Rosson, if she continues to produce works of such riotous intensity, will only grow in stature in the fashion-conscious future.