Artist StatementMindful of a sense of place, history and the machinations of an ever changing environment,I have tried to find common ground between an increasingly complex world politic, and the more fundamental aspects of contemporary life. The common use of new technologies in contemporary societies have impacted on just about every aspect of human activity,from the way we work and play, to the way we live and design new communities, and yet, so much of how we resolve conflict can depend on the most arcane of human practices, the habit of violence and war. I work with a wide range of media that supports flat and three dimensional work, and I try to address some of these issues.
by Carle E. Hazlewood Roy Crosse grew up in Port of Spain, Trinidad. He left the West Indian island in the early ‘sixties to study in Toronto, Canada. Despite a lifelong artistic avocation he had not yet defined himself as an “artist”, so radio electronics seemed as good a career as any, especially since it utilized his urge to tinker and fit things together in inventive ways. Unfortunately, the electronic toys and contraptions he made in school all tended to fall apart. A perceptive teacher suggested he consider transferring to a more creative environment – like art school. After studying at Toronto’s Central Technical School and the Ryerson Unversity, Crosse embarked on an active career as an exhibiting artist and teacher. He produced paintings, prints and sculpture. There were also floor installations assembled from wood, rocks and other materials; stage set designs, done for various theatre groups provided a way for him to express a continuing interest in music and dance. Eventually, in 1977 he joined the staff of Toronto’s New School of Art and was appointed its deputy director. But in 1979 Crosse moved back to the West Indies funded by a UNESCO fellowship. It supported his position as chairperson of the painting department at the Jamaica School of Art where he had been invited to teach. Since then, he has had a variety of professional appointments and awards. These included the Ontario Arts Council Award in Toronto, Canada; the New York Foundation for the Arts Award and the Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York and New Jersey Arts for Transit Award. Crosse was Artist-in-Residence at the Newark Museum Arts Workshop, as well as Boston’s Northeastern University. In addition to museum and gallery shows in the United States, one of his most recent international shows was the Entre Mostre Nazionale, South of the World exhibition which traveled in Italy to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Palermo, as well as other venues in Milan and Marsala. His work graces the collection of Prudential Corporation, the Museum of National Center of African American Artists in Boston and the National Museum and Art Gallery of Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies. Crosse recently completed a thirty-four foot tall sculptural commission for Seton Hall School of Law in Newark, New Jersey. This cosmopolitan artist lived and worked in many places, including Boston and New York before settling into his current Newark, New Jersey studio. For Mr. Crosse, home is now wherever he finds a suitable environment amenable to his talent and activities as artist and teacher. Looking around his spacious studio one sees evidence of all the artist’s creative interests: here are hand-made percussion and stringed instruments; on the wall are prints and works on paper, while abstract paintings with dappled color evoking memories of the Caribbean hang nearby. In the studio is his latest sculptural endeavor: large totemic wooden constructions with metallic elements that glint in the light. The only sound one hears is the rhythmic tapping of hammer against wood and metal that declares: artist at work. Roy Crosse’s large-scaled wood and mixed-media sculpture which he worked on about the same time as these drawings, are more subject-oriented and connects to a mythic/spiritual stream of history that is essentially African. In contrast, the small black and white drawings (as well as his abstract paintings) are influenced more by the artist’s heritage of Western modernism. In this stream, artists from Kandinsky to Franz Kline become important. So, one may say that these works on paper are presented as another aspect of the artist’s multi-faceted, culturally diverse creative personality. In the end we need not be aware of Roy Crosse’s identity as a cosmopolitan Afro-Caribbean man to contemplate or appreciate leafing through this visual diary. The work speaks for itself in articulate terms, we simply have to stop and listen.