A Crystal Clear Motivation

Tiffany Haas and Anne Brummel
Photo by: Joan Marcus

by shea slemmer
There’s something unusual about the small works that belong to Jacksonville native Crystal Floyd. Unpretentious and intricate, they resemble fantastic landscapes that could only be conceived through a love of research and the natural world. In fact, Floyd admits to an “almost obsessive desire to collect and catalog objects of inspiration” so it is not surprising that she volunteers at the Museum of Science and History so that she can explore their non-living and history collections during her spare time.
On top of being a visual artist, Floyd has also helped with the production of many exhibitions that have taken place in Downtown Jacksonville among which include co-curating shows at the Old Library Basement and 229 North Hogan Gallery.
The following interview touches on Floyd’s strong ties to the South and her thoughts on being a part of our evolving art scene here in Jacksonville.
EU: Please tell me how long you have lived here and your thoughts on being a working artist in Jacksonville.
Crystal Floyd: I was born and raised here in Jacksonville and it will always be where my heart lies. That being said, up until recently in the past several years, there hasn’t been much widespread support for artists in this city. Luckily, things have progressed to the point where some really creative and motivated people are now situated in positions to encourage growth in the local art community. Because we are currently breaking ground toward new movements in the art and culture of this city, there seems to be less elitism and almost a sense of southern hospitality toward accepting many different forms of art and artists that are willing to step out and express themselves in their chosen mediums. I have been interested in art for as long as I can remember, but have really only just begun showing work over the past few years. I love that you don’t have to be an established artist with 20 gallery shows under your belt to get a chance to display your work; I think it is exciting to see that people are inspired and creating, regardless of their experience. Now that we have Art Walk and an abundance of smaller, independent galleries, the opportunities for those artists to have their work shown are greater and they are able to seen by a wider and more diverse audience.
EU: Tell us a little about your pieces. Would you say you are primarily an assemblage artist, or a sculptor? How would you describe your newest works?
CF: I don’t think I could really be able to categorize myself into one type of artist. I think the best way to describe my artistic output is that it is very much marked by attention deficit. I don’t usually end up doing one type of medium for long, because I love to sew, paint, collage, take photographs, create environments using plants, sculpt and build assemblages, so I end up jumping around between them for variety and to keep my interest. I would like to be able to focus and really master a medium, but for now, it’s been much more fun mixing it up a bit. I have recently done some paintings and mixed media collages inspired by educational illustrations from old science books, but have some new pieces coming soon that are assemblages involving minerals and natural scenes, most likely with some humor mixed in. No matter how hard I try, there usually ends up being some sort of underlying tongue-in-cheek message that sneaks into my finished projects.
EU: How would you describe the art market in Jacksonville? What do you think the residents of this city are looking to put on their walls?
CF: Well, I think it’s pretty divided. I think there are a lot of people in Jacksonville who just want something that matches their couch or duvet cover, but there seems to be an influx of people who are willing to invest in pieces from local artists and see the potential in supporting their work. Rather than just being “safe” and buying some cookie-cutter wall art from a home decor superstore, there seems to be more desire to have one-of-a-kind works from local artists and a draw toward making living spaces more of an expression of what moves the individual.
EU: If someone had just moved here and was looking to buy local art for their home, where would you send them?
CF: Art Walk can be a good place to find new art to buy, particularly at Nullspace Gallery, which has been putting out some really solid shows. Otherwise, every other day of the month, I would probably tell them to go wander through the shops and salons of Five Points, which regularly showcase work from local artists and often at very reasonable prices.
EU: Thanks again for your time. Before you go, are there any artists in Jacksonville that you particularly admire and would like to mention?
CF: There are a lot of amazing artists in this town, but working on projects alongside Shaun Thurston, Clay Doran and Matt Abercrombie has really begun to push me as an artist in a much-welcomed sense. Jim Draper has been an inspiration and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to share ideas and just discuss art with someone with his experience level and perspective. Otherwise, Scott Allen, Ryan Johnson, Mark Estlund, Eric Gillyard, Madeline Peck and Josh Hoye, along with a lot of the artists involved in the AIGA projects, are all fantastically talented contributors to the evolving culture in Jacksonville.
You can see more of Floyd’s work via her website: www.crystalfloyd.com
ARTIST TIP: I have come to learn a few things about creating artwork lately that have really helped motivate me to produce more work. So, my tips for other artists would be to trust your taste and stay true to your vision and to put your ideas down on paper or whatever your medium may be, regardless of whether or not it’s marketable or a new idea to you, because it may surprise you and develop into something you didn’t even know you were capable of doing.