Artist Feature: Haley Craw

Editor Shenyah Webb, Art, July 20th, 2016

"Breaking down guilt, shame, and suppressed desire."

Haley Craw art NAILED Magazine artist feature
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HALEY CRAW: Much of my experience comes from growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness and experiencing the social systems in fundamentalist organized religion that place strict rules based on gender and sexuality. After leaving the Religion I really began looking critically at concepts that are specifically forced upon women as indicators of value, such as notions of purity, virginity, and modesty. No woman’s value should be prescribed based on these ideas and no person can be free without autonomy over their body and sexuality. These concepts are very pervasive in many ideologies and cultures and I believe it is so important to challenge them at the root, to not allow women to be valued as lesser for being confident in their sexuality and assertive in their independence.

My use of the abject and of exaggerated seeping bodily forms is very much a critique of the “pure” female body; my figures are unashamedly wet, sexual and independent. So, my inspiration is coming from a very personal place and set of experiences, although I am ultimately more interested in how these ideas affect a social body much larger than me.

Looking at the shape of absence says more about the meaning of power than does only looking at the shape of presence. The image of an absent body, a suspended garment, haunts the space in which there is a desire for presence. A cocoon covers a moth in transition, the body becomes something ‘other’ in this space, suspended in an in-between state. My work acts as a preserved trace of this space that cannot be categorized, alive and dead, wet and dry, cocoon and corpse, body and symbol. Seeping materials display the feminine body as one that is wet and open instead of dry and closed. Purity is that which is free from contamination, a pure woman is free from her humanity.

I am attracted to objects with an inherent sentimental history, lingerie contains intimate memory of the body and hair is often a token of admiration, both grotesque and desirable. Wetness, the preservation of wetness and stains as residue are an unapologetic bodily trace, signification of embracing the impure fallen woman of original sin. A mysterious beast roaming the forest or suspended within its limbs. Survival is my response to a demythologized environment, an anti-coping mechanism, mortality as the only absolute yet truth of nothing. Breaking down guilt, shame, and suppressed desire, my work is a memorial for women with a tendency to cause trouble.

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Haley Craw artist art featureHaley Craw is a multidisciplinary artist based in Calgary, Canada. Her work takes the form of process based material exploration and ideas pertaining to the body, absence, memento mori and ideology through both a social context and reference to personal experience. Her work has been shown across Canada, including the Feminist Art Conference in Toronto, ON, where she spoke on the “Faith, Tradition, Spirituality and Feminism” panel discussion. She has also been featured in several online publications, for more information, go here.

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Shenyah Webb

Shenyah Webb is the Arts Editor and a Contributing Editor for NAILED. She is originally from Detroit; she studied Psychology at Michigan State University, and later finished in Industrial Design with an Art Therapy minor at The College of Creative Studies. She lives and works in Portland with her husband and son. She is a visual artist, and musician under the name Lithopedion. Her self-titled EP was released in 2013.