Maysey Craddock | Studio Visit

As the newest team member of DLG, much of my introductory period has been saturated with getting friendly with Photoshop, meeting our community of clients, and hanging out in artist’s studios. I am so grateful to be welcomed into their places of creativity and production– and for a break from Photoshop. Seeing art through a computer screen is nothing like witnessing it in person. Colors are often unimaginable by pixels, and size is difficult to fathom from a desk chair. It is especially the delicious detail and personality of an artwork that comes to life when you place yourself in front of it. But to spend time with a body of works and their creator…well, that is perhaps the most magical part of my job.

Last week I had the opportunity to end my work day with a sunset drive down to Maysey Craddock’s studio. Tucked away in an renovated historical building in an undeveloped part of downtown Memphis, Craddock gets to work creating her famed paper bag collages. Her deep admiration for the terrain of the South is apparent to anyone, even those loosely familiar with her work, so it made sense that upon her return to Memphis over 10 years ago from Germany, she chose this location­– just a stone’s throw from the Mississippi’s edge– as her artistic home.


Right now, Craddock is busy with something exciting. In December, her work along with a few other DLG artists will head to Miami for the Pulse Art Fair. She will take about 4 pieces, gently stitched and adorned with shimmering and contrasting layers of gouache. Craddock’s pieces mediate on the topography of the southern region. Pathways of color delicately wind throughout each composition. For a moment they are abstract in their design, but Craddock’s paintings become a familiar language to those of us who know the curves and twists of the Mississippi and linger on memories of nature’s backlit shapes on a bright day. Each of Craddock’s pieces headed to PULSE are based on images she took in Perdido Bay, Alabama “where I have over many years been documenting the landscapes in an effort to explore ideas of disintegration, fragility, regeneration, entropy, resilience” she shares.


Craddock’s process is quite inventive. She snaps photos of patterns of local flora and landscapes, layered shadows, or light playing on surfaces. Next, she hyper-exposes them in the editing phase so that the colors become monochrome and reveal the patterns of light and color within the image. These shapes are then transposed onto the pre-stitched paper bags. I was impressed by the large stack of paper bags pressing in the corner– important note from Craddock: not all bags are good bags! Once the composition is complete, with good bags only, of course, Craddock explains how “layers of gouache are laid over the terrain of the paper, conveying atmosphere and a recollection of the story of these spaces.”


3 new pieces in progress dress the plaster wall in Craddock’s studio. Rusty reds, electric blues, and moody greens have been chosen for these new pieces headed to Miami for the PULSE Art Fair in December. Their compositions partner with color to create a multidimensional world that takes a minute for the eyes to discern. It is rather difficult to explain: each layer of color is a cohesive, massive shape with extremely intricate and tricky tracery which makes the completion of these large works is a laudable task. Reminiscent of woodblock prints or weirdly, paint by numbers, the colored layers are carried out in mass and the eye must rely on the color– the hand of the artist– to define boundaries. Craddock focuses on how the colors reveal themselves and in turn, expose the composition. Two of her working pieces are tonal, using different shades of the same color, while the third piece offers something refreshing for Craddock’s body of work using three base colors. Together, they heighten the viewer’s ability to locate themselves throughout the piece.

“Negative/positive [space] becomes a way to distill imagery and reveal the fragmentation and fragility I find in these spaces.  More nuanced color such as in the green pieces is evocative of atmosphere, temperature, climate, geology and even sound– such as the persistent whirr of cicadas on a hot day, or wind in the trees at night. This is really more of an internal reference than anything, and connects me to spaces I am working with even when, in my studio, I am at a remove from them physically.”

Successfully carried out most notably for her 2018 show at DLG Memphis, Craddock is preparing something special with her usual paper bags, gouache, and now a projector. Projected on to a paper bag collage will be a meditative nature video shot by Craddock herself in Perdido Bay. The projected video bridges stagnancy with energy, what is coming with what is going. Paper bags aren’t just an affordable way to paint– they serve a purpose as a medium. Being found and reused, the paper bags obviously offer an art historical nod to modernism; however, when paired with nature-inspired scenes, the bags “complete the cycle from materials to imagery, calling attention to the ephemerality of the natural world and the crisis of misuse and destruction that threatens it.” Her sentiments strike close to home­ right here on the bluff of the Mississippi.

Maysey Blog 4

Visiting Craddock’s studio stirred up fresh excitement for me. The creative process and methods of an artist is always fun to learn but Craddock and her work reiterate why interacting and being with art matters. We are so proud to represent Craddock at DLG and we can’t wait to show her off at PULSE this December.

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