As the saying goes: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” In the case of artist Jim Crawford, a Detroit artist who was an influential figure the Cass Corridor movement in the 1960s and 1970s, there is a lifelong artistic process of transforming discarded materials into sculptural works.
Early in 1970s, as when Crawford created his 1972 Pile Series, the artist was able to generate an aesthetic and artistic relationship with discard, such as piles of concrete or other industrial waste materials. In this, his first solo show in over a decade, which opened at Trinosophes on Oct. 21 and will run through Dec. 23, Crawford’s newest series of works are largely comprised of cat food cans stacked in containers such as library card catalogue drawers and roughly constructed boxes.
This penchant and elevation of rubble reflects, and may in fact reside at the root of, the collective and distinct relationship an entire category of Detroit artists have created with found materials over the last four decades. Though Crawford pursued formal study in art, receiving both an undergraduate degree and an MFA from Wayne State University in the 1960s, he expresses and embodies an egalitarian view of art-making, characterizing himself as having been an artist from the age of five.
“I feel comfortable with all materials,” said Crawford, during an artist conversation with Mazzei at Trinosophes on Saturday, Oct. 22, “and all materials can be used to make art.” During Crawford’s time working a desk job at Michigan Council for the Arts, office supplies became central to his art-making process.