Paula Crown Shares Her Journey from Wall Street to the Art World

Good morning contemporary art lovers!
I am pleased to introduce to you through this interview a new artist I just met: Paula Crown.
Paula Crown became a successful artist very recently. She served as Vice President of real estate finance at Salomon Brothers in New York and worked for a family-owned investment firm in Chicago. In 2012, she opted for a new artistic career and received her MFA in painting and drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Crown was previously appointed to President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and also served a member of the board of trustees of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She currently heads the museum’s education committee.

What made you decide to become an artist?                              
I am not sure one ever has a choice to become an artist. I asked my parents what I did before I was aware that anyone was looking…and I was always making and creating. They brought me to an adult studio at the age of 8 or 9 where I learned to paint with oils. Although my journey was indirect over the decades, it became clear to me that art was something I had to pursue full time in the last 10-15 years. I organized my life in a way to orchestrate that shift. As my four children grew older, I assembled a portfolio, took art classes at the School of the Art Institute and Anderson Ranch in Colorado with established artists and applied to art school. I reduced my for-profit work and community volunteer activities unless they had a direct relationship to my art (for example MoMA and the Presidential Committee for Arts and Humanities).

What is your background?        
I received a BA degree from Duke magna cum laude in management science where I did a concentration in Italian renaissance art with the Titian scholar Rona Goffen. In 2012, I received my MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in painting and drawing.
The road became clearer as to how I was going to find my way to a full time practice. I was accepted into the MFA program at SAIC in painting and drawing and graduated in 2012 and opened a studio the following year. Fortunately, my work has had a positive reception and I have been able to show my work at the Aspen Institute, Chicago Expo, and currently at the Dallas Contemporary Museum. More will be announced for 2014 and 2015.

What is your favorite medium and why?                                          I have a mind that is associative… I rarely see an idea in one medium or another. I think of myself as a trans-media artist for that reason. Often ideas can start with a pencil sketch that can translate into a 3D sculpture via scanning, and manipulation of that image in multiple planes. I might then animate the sketch and add audio or invert the coloration. I definitely feel more comfortable with tools of the trade that give me the satisfaction of direct mark making (i.e. brushes, markers, pencils) but I also love the image mediating power of Photoshop, processing and high resolution scanning. I paint primarily with acrylics due to allergies now.


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