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Check out David Criner’s Artwork

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Criner.

David, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
On some level, I knew that I was an artist at a very young age. But it was not until I was about 20 that I made the decision to commit to art as my vocation. I got a bachelor’s degree in Painting from the University of Illinois, then followed with an M.F.A. from the University of Kansas, finishing in 1995. I first imagined while an undergraduate that I wanted to teach on a college level. However, I discovered after finishing my education, that progress toward this goal did not present itself as a straight line. While I continued to make art, I found myself in various jobs, including temp jobs and the construction industry, before I took a position working with preschool through fifth grade kids.

I wouldn’t have predicted this as part of the path, but looking back, this was necessary to energize my artistic practice, and to prepare me for teaching college level art. My formal education itself was not enough to get me there. Finally, in my early thirties, I took on my first college level class at Northeastern Illinois University, where I continue to teach. I view teaching and my studio practice as complementary disciplines. Each fuels the other.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
If I think about the universe, and what science tells us, life as we conceive of it appears almost infinitely rare. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t meditate on what I see as the utter scarcity of this human condition, or if I am to speak more inclusively, this life condition. I am unable to take for granted, at least for very long, that we are beings complete with consciousness, an ability to sense beyond ourselves, and to communicate our impressions and feelings. If we distinguish ourselves from the inanimate, we as conscious entities form but mere micro-specks within the vast milieu of non-living material and empty space. What are the odds?

Painting, while it covers much ground in terms of the various energies that drive the process, ultimately brings me back to this phenomenon, and with cause for celebration. While working, I often see myself operating as both creator and observer, somehow in charge, but never more than a step ahead of the painting itself. The work bears a life of its own, and I feel like only a catalyst at key moments of development. When I am satisfied with a piece and consider it complete, I find myself more witness than owner, as though the spirit of the image continues to pulse just beyond grasp.

What advice would you offer to developing artists?
No matter where you are with your art, you have to start somewhere. Realize that your art is about you, like keeping a journal or autobiography. Simple solutions, when they present themselves, are often best, but inspiration and frustration can sometimes arrive simultaneously. It takes more than cleverness to get anywhere with something like art, so embrace each twist or turn as it presents itself. Don’t expect to have all the answers before you find yourself immersed in the actual situation, but be willing to adjust the shape or definition of the problem as you wander into it. Avoid trying to create something especially profound, unless it sneaks up on you. Failure tends to lead to something better. Quit while your ahead.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I have had recent shows at A plus C Architects in Skokie, as well as exhibitions in Minneapolis and Michigan. I currently have work on display at the Bridgeport Art Center in Chicago. Available work can be viewed at, or on Instagram @davidcriner, or on my Facebook page. Check website for upcoming exhibitions. Studio visits are available by appointment.

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Image Credit:
David Criner

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