Nancy McCroskey
Fort Wayne, Museum of Art Alliance
Fort Wayne, Indiana
By Gerrit Henry
Nancy McCroskey, an assistant professor of art and head of the ceramics department at Indiana-Purdue University, makes large scale, low relief ceramic wall murals. Two such recent works were Riverrun, commissioned for the lobby of the Fort Wayne’s Grand Center, and the aerial-map-based, suitably dizzying Aerial Rhythm,

commissioned in 1991 by the Montgomery County school system of Maryland.

The epic scale is well-suited to McCroskey’s technique, which runs to the up-and-down serializing of ceramic squares, each containing its own design motif, as in Riverrun. The piece boasts plaques in horizontal rows of 13 and vertical rows of 6, its center image -- a ribbon of shiny blue river snaking from mural upper left to mural lower right -- surrounded by squares in clay red, blue, and white with designs ranging from the bio-morphic to the geometric, from the natural to the man-made.

In Suite in Black, White and Gray (1992) 6’ by 9’ x 4”, 40 squares reveal a seeming infinity of motifs – black-on-white or white-on-black arrows, whirligig paisleys in several shades of gray, white-silhouetted leaf or dove, simple relief striping, brick patterns, even a squared-off cross-within-a-cross. The overall effect was that of a near-hieroglyphic secret code, so openly handsome and visually outspoken that the code didn’t have to be “cracked” to be aesthetically apprehended.

McCroskey’s Fort Wayne show also featured one of her few solo images -- and even this one came doubled in the form of a diptych. Pinnately Lobed
(1991), 30”X 60” X 2”, shows the same huge, abstracted leaf reversed, on the left in black-veined white, tip pointing left, and on the right in white-veined black, pointing right. Here McCroskey proved an able and sympathetic artificer of nature, the serial pieces revealing same along with a true gift for naturalizing artifice.

  ©2004 Nancy Mc Croskey
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