New Work is a breath-taking group of nine fastidiously crafted metal sculptures by Tracy Krumm, a nationally known artist leavingthe Kansas City (MO) Art Institute for a faculty post at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
She stands in welcome contrast to much that is happening in contemporary art. Unlike so many artists who seem to copy whatever is depicted in the latest issue of Artforum, she has developed a still-fresh, immediately identifiable style. And unlike artists who put concept above craft — in some unfortunate cases, spurning craft altogether — she takes an almost old-world approach to her work, devoting countless hours in crocheting metal wire and fashioning her extraordinarily intricate pieces.
That her sculptures rely so heavily on seemingly antiquated artisanship and yet have a decidedly contemporary feel is one of several cross-currents that invest this art with an expressive power that goes beyond the beauty of its forms and the awe-inspiring complexity of its construction.
The origin of all of these pieces lies in textiles. Wall Curtain: Saw Blade (2002), for example, is just what its title says: three curtains of different lengths draped atop each other with frilly borders. If they were made of fabric, the 8 ½-foot-tall piece would be unremarkable. Instead each panel is made of crocheted wire. This defies or perhaps subverts notions of what a curtain is and how it is made, upsetting our notions of where and how metal is used.
Krumm also likes to juxtapose delicacy and bulk. In the nearly 9-foot-tall hanging sculpture, Shroud: Long Bag with Hook (2006), arguably the strongest of the seven selections, she has suspended a big iron hook from an elongated, finely crocheted “bag,” which is in turn hung from what looks like an old automobile spring. That central core element is surrounded by a cylindrical, crocheted-metal “shroud.” These related yet subtly competing components give the piece a layered dynamism while maintaining its airy transparency.
— Kyle MacMillan, Denver Post Fine Arts Critic