Lucy Cherry Crisp: 20th Century Art Practice
Modern art has a tendency to confuse viewers, appearing significant only to those privy to its ethereal meaning. For as long as the general public has felt oppressed by its abstractions, there have been professionals dedicated to altering these practices. Museum directors, curators, and various art historians have fought to make art museums welcoming to the general public. One example is Lucy Cherry Crisp (1899-1977), a North Carolina native, a notable figure in the art world who went to great lengths to make art accessible to everyone. Her most important accomplishments were helping to transform the North Carolina State Art Gallery into the North Carolina Museum of Art and sending an organized exhibit of North Carolina Painters to a gallery in New York City. Crisp’s involvement in these projects was a result of how she understood art should function: as a means of education for the public beyond aesthetic function. In identifying what Crisp wanted to accomplish with her work, along with how she set out to achieve such accomplishments, it becomes possible to critically analyze the impact of her methods. Professionals today, working within similar settings have the opportunity to view Crisp’s methods in relation to their own, learning from her successes and failures.
Winner: Rhem-Schwarzmann Prize, awarded 2012 by Joyner Library