Visiting Artist’s “Hunt and Gather” exhibit is on view at Adams State

By Madeleine Ahlborn |

(advisory: story contains some graphic imagery)

CRAIG Cully is as much a storyteller as he is a painter and thinker. I am intensely struck by the materiality of his paintings. Cully combines new and old artistic styles, pulling art historical references into the contemporary world of his experience in life. Cully’s paintings are a vessel to understand these events: from illness and trauma, to investigation and exploration, to the attempt to understand why his brother is so wrapped up in hounds and horses to go on a hunt for sport (listen to the lecture; this is a great story) and so much more.

THERE is a moment in his talk where he describes his experience in the world of academia, learning how to paint in certain ways from different people but really he needed to “figure out how Craig Cully paints.” He speaks briefly about finding his own style through many series of portraits “to work things out, figure things out, and keep myself busy.” These are made in the sketchbook he carries with him for this exact reason. Eventually the sketches evolve into many MANY self portraits. “I took several Polaroids of myself and I set out a plan. I said, I’m not going to stop painting these things until I figure out how I paint; in other words, it’s not about technique, it’s not about making it look like how someone else paints, it’s about what Craig Cully does as a painter and who he is.” The series began with six self portraits and now has well over 65 pieces. He says to community members in the lecture hall, “and I still don’t know how to paint (chuckles).” 

CULLY has the ability to paint in a variety of ways, with a range that can cover just about anything that he wants to communicate to an audience. 

“Anything you paint or draw or make for that matter has a line that expresses what you want it to. But for me now, after this series, paint becomes a tool or vehicle for communication and no longer a technique that I have to master.” 

Furthermore he states, in response to a fellow artist who comes into his studio;

Fellow artist: Craig, do you ever feel schizophrenic? 

Craig: Well…what do you mean by that? 

Fellow artist: You’re doing this thing over here and that thing over there and another thing over there … You’re doing like 1000 things all at once and being torn in all different directions.

Craig: Well isn’t that the point? Isn’t that the point of what it is that we’re trying to do here? Work in all these different modalities all at once and sort of tear ourselves apart in order to investigate those deep insights into our psyche.

Cully’s work is remarkable in the sense of investigation into his own psyche, the world, and the events of his life leading him to where he is now. Within the 10 series that are on display in the Snook Gallery there is also a pamphlet that describes the work and its inception.

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