Adam Crosson

Studio art graduate student Adam Crosson is the creator of “Soft Wax,” an exhibit currently on display at Pump Project, a local art studio established to bring artists affordable work spaces. Both European culture and the work of Paul Virilio, a French cultural theorist and urbanist, influence Crosson’s art.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Fluorescent lights, cement blocks and a pair of gloves star as some of the main attractions in Adam Crosson’s new art installation, “Soft Wax.”

Studio art graduate student Adam Crosson will display his latest sculpture exhibit through Feb. 28 at Pump Project Art Complex, a local, nonprofit art studio and exhibition gallery established to bring affordable work spaces to artists. 

Crosson said the inspiration for his exhibition came primarily from two places: the creation and destruction of the European climate and the influential pieces of Paul Virilio, a French cultural theorist and urbanist. Virilio’s writing on the concept of occidental geometry — the regulation of diverse forms of representation — influenced Crosson’s construction of his featured pieces.

“Two of the primary objects come from this thinking of these occidental geometries: climates of war and climates of modernist architecture in the mid-century,” Crosson said. 

Crosson, who received a fellowship last fall, spent the semester at the Royal College of Art in London. While there, he learned about European art and history, which he said had a major impact on his work.

“The work that I am doing now is established off of that first year of study, but more specially, it comes out of my experience in London,” Crosson said.

Rebecca Marino, Pump Project gallery director, said she was impressed with his work after only one viewing.

“I was really drawn to his use of materials and the subtle familiarity of the objects that he was making. And not only was the work strong overall, he has an interest in the qualities of ‘non-place’ alongside an architectural background that can definitely be seen in his work,” Marino said. 

Crosson said he wants exhibit viewers to come away with their own interpretations of his work, without being told how to feel. Crosson said it is important for artists to look back at early art history, to see how
artists translate their energy to their viewers.

“For me, I’m interested in understanding that history, and incorporating that history, and developing a dialogue with that history,” Crosson said. 

Katie Edwards, curator at UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum, met Crosson after the museum awarded him the UMLAUF Prize — an award given to an outstanding UT Master of Fine Arts student. She said she would be happy to work with any student, but Crosson was a dream.

“‘Soft Wax’ was partly about making us aware of spaces we generally don’t think about,” Edwards said. “So, in a way, some of his sculptures makes us aware of the impossibility of certain situations.”

Crosson said he plans to move to Europe in the near future to further his art career. 

“I think that being in an international setting for a few years, at least, will do my practice a lot of good and expand it in ways that staying here wouldn’t,” Crosson said.

Adam Crosson, a UT a sculpture graduate student, is the recipient of the Umlauf prize. The prize includes an exhibition at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden’s outdoor space. 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Adam Crosson | Daily Texan Staff

Everyday spaces are filled with the most inspiration, according to studio art graduate student Adam Crosson. Crosson’s solo exhibition, “Intermodal,” opened earlier this month at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum. Crosson was awarded the Umlauf prize, which included an exhibition and a cash prize.

“I was excited about the opportunity to show work,” Crosson said. “Anytime that there’s an opportunity to show work outside of school, it forces you to interact with a different audience, and, in some ways, it’s riskier.”

Currently on display outdoors, Crosson’s pieces are large and, at times, ambiguous. Crosson said he developed the concept of “transit spaces” during his daily commute to and from school. 

“[Transit spaces] are this kind of forgotten about thing with important functionality,” Crosson said. “It’s kind of pulling [a] fragment of that unseen system into a space of a museum at a human scale.” 

“Intermodal” features pieces such as a suspended airplane wing, a freight container and several other large installations. Crosson said he was inspired by airplanes, airports and their presence in the media. Air catastrophes, particularly Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, had a personal impact on Crosson and the ideas he carried into his work.

The title of his exhibition, “Intermodal,” is derived from intermodal freight transport, which is a method of moving freight around the world. The freight container featured in the exhibition was constructed in China and, according to Crosson, participated in many international deliveries. 

“If you inhabit that space, you can tell it is haunted by the freight that was once in there,” Crosson said. “I think my work pulls from outdoor, urban settings often, so the material palette was there, and, in a lot of ways, the challenges kind of fueled further conceptual exploration.”

Umlauf executive director Nina Seely said the Umlauf prize is one of the most exciting programs at the museum because of the opportunities it offers. Damian Priour, late sculpture artist and Umlauf board member, created the prize to support UT students and allow them to share their work with the community. 

“Damian Priour would be so proud to see what we have done with the prize and what Adam Crosson has accomplished through the Umlauf Prize,” Seely said.

Crosson’s concepts and experimentation with new materials are what caught Suzanne Deal Booth’s eye. Booth, a philanthropist and art historian serving on several fine arts committees, worked closely with Seely to select the winner of the Umlauf Prize. 

“I had no idea students were doing such interesting and diverse things,” Booth said. “Narrowing it down to [Crosson] was really as if his work had just expanded into another place, and that we were the first ones to stumble into it. Almost a moment of discovery.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Damian Priour as a former UT sculpture professor. It has since been updated.