Art has and always will be about eliciting emotion. Whether it’s from the creator or audience, it’s the feelings behind it that truly make art special. Artist Eva Crawford takes this idea a step further. She centers her artwork on narrative elements to evoke a range of emotions in both herself and her audience.
“As a visual storyteller,” begins Crawford, “I use realism to invite the viewer into the subject matter. I either draw with charcoal, collage from found images, or paint with acrylic, oil, or watercolor.”
Using these mediums, Crawford creates mostly portraits. She strives to capture nuanced features and the full personalities of her subjects. But storytelling—and storytelling through artwork, for that matter—was not where Crawford first saw her career going. She’d been creating art as early as three and always wanted to do something creative. However, she didn’t land on visual art right away.
“After earning a BFA in Studio Art from UNC Chapel Hill,” says Crawford, “I designed furniture for a while. Then, I embraced an unexpected season teaching high school art.”
As she watched the kids in her classes grow confident, she did the same with her own artwork. She now firmly believes that all humans have the capacity for creativity.
“We’re made to create, to find the media and inspiration and dive in. Children are all unabashedly artists,” notes Crawford.
That’s why she implores any interested adults to explore art using their childlike imagination and to connect with others doing the same.
The Art of Relationships
This perspective led Crawford to use art in a way that feels authentic to her true self. Her experiences as a creator, teacher, wife, and mother drove her to explore the stories behind her relationships. These relationships included ones with her younger sister who has physical disabilities, her elderly parents, and her relatives with mental health issues.
“The art I make is about relationships with those we love, with those we feel compassion, and with those whom we do not yet understand,” confirms Crawford. “These intimate interactions fuel my desire to give visual voice to fellow humans using portraiture. To be seen and to see others with understanding fosters ultimate healing among us.”
A recent example of this healing narrative work comes in the form of a charcoal drawing series. Crawford started this series after her father passed away in early 2021. His absence drove her and her mother to look through old letters, pull out early black-and-white photos, and share long-forgotten stories. This, in turn, led her to think about those left behind in photos and letters with no one left to remember them. That’s when Crawford decided to draw those subjects. She replicates the black and white values of film photography on life-sized papers throughout her studio.
Crawford’s work can be seen most easily on display at Dilworth Artisan Station, a hub for creatives and artists of all kinds to work and share their talents.
“Dilworth Artisan Station provides an opportunity for interested collectors and art enthusiasts to freely roam the floors of the historic building,” says Crawford of the space. “They can view current artworks and chat with artists in their studios.”
Crawford can be found working on commissions or other artwork in studio #22 alongside fellow artist Bridgette Martin.