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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Craig Kraft

Biography

I have created sculptural artwork for the past 35 years and public artwork for the past 19 years. Over 18 works have been sited/commissioned by such entities as The Rhode Island School of Design; Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, New York; Montgomery County, Maryland; The District of Columbia Arts and Humanities Commission; St. Petersburg, Florida Fine Art Museum; Arlington Art Center, Arlington, Virginia; The Cell, New York City; Honfleur Gallery in Anacostia DC; Embassy Suites Hotel, North Carolina and Colorado; International sculpture exhibitions in the Busan, Korea Biennale, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Merida, Mexico, and most recently Vivace for the Watha T. Daniel Library and the Anacostia Gateway in Washington, D.C.

Artist Statement

Since 1983, the common thread of my work has been neon light. I use neon for its versatility: long-lasting industrial strength, vast possibilities of color, and for its willingness to be bent into almost any shape or form. It is the contradictory nature of light—tangible yet intangible, substantial yet insubstantial—that draws the viewer into the artwork. Light is, after all, how we see things. Light is in constant flux so it begs questions about perception and importance.

My approach to public art is to allow the site to inspire. The work must be original yet at the same time reflect and relate to its surroundings. My statements are bold and easily read from afar. They are complex in intellectual content (interdependence, point and counterpoint balancing, and original in their integration with architecture). The multi-colored light with bold strokes would be seen from afar and mark the location with a modern sensibility.

My neon sculptures may not be explicit in their proclamation of a specific entity; they always imply announcement and identification of a specific sense or environment. My public pieces have a special way of manipulating the traditional medium to move beyond simple commercial intentions and instead artfully declare one’s arrival at an important place. "Lightweb" in Silver Spring, MD and "Vivace" in D.C., for example, announce an important community landmark to a diverse range of viewers.

Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy is to expose students to new and exciting material, and from there, students are expected to participate in the process and outcome of their education. With my guidance, they can explore and ultimately choose their own path. There is a respect for where their coming from, their knowledge and experience, and from here, I become a facilitator, helping the students reach their goals. Our direction is towards a core human experience—creativity and creation which adds a deeper meaning to our lives. My hope would be for students to be inspired by light as an art and through that interaction, create their own personal vision.

Website: www.craigkraftstudio.com