Craig Billings - Artist Statement
There are many sides to the artwork I create. Some would say I have a split personality when it comes to art, but my belief is that ideas are meant to not only be envisioned but created. My work includes three dimensional figurative relief paintings, mixed media sculpture, woven canvas paintings, abstract paintings, collage, folk art (masks, canes and walking sticks), and combinations of all the above. I have been producing artwork for over 40 years, and the work has evolved.
The majority of my work talks to social political concerns in the world we live in. This is all from my own perspective and may be somewhat biased due to the continuing onslaught of media coverage which over the years has only gotten more prevalent and brazen. I continue to be an idealist with realist tendencies.
We as human beings should yearn to be free, to use that freedom responsibly in the hope of making "life" better for us all. Life goes on around us, but do we truly see what is happening to ourselves and our brothers and sisters? Our visual world is flooded with violence, death, and destruction through excessive media exchange (especially in today's on-line world). Some have become immune to the horror that manifests itself in our own back yard. I bring this information to my work and with the use of "art" ideas (color, composition, balance, process, use of different media, etc.) strive to communicate to the viewer my thoughts and concerns. Much of my work is chaotic, much like life itself, with lots of images to look at that support and contradict the work.
The viewer also will be able to come to their own conclusion when looking at my art. There is no "gold standard" for thought, and I welcome viewer interpretation of all of my work. Constant reports of what's bad in our country and the world, or what secret we can dig up and disclose about our neighbors, or the rambling of cronic complainers permeates our very being. I have taken pieces of that information and created visual artifacts that ask the question "why?".
I was born in Rochester New York and moved at the age of 2 to Kenmore New York, a suburb of Buffalo. I went through the usual K-12 education at various public schools. When I was 12 or 13, my mother took myself and my sister to a Van Gogh exhibit at the Albright Knox Art gallery in Buffalo. I was facinated; I was captivated; I loved it. I remember discussing the exhibit over family dinner, as we all thought the show was outstanding. I believe that exhibit was the catalyst that sparked the passion I have today.
I graduated from Eureka College in 1970 with a BA in English and a minor in art (I took every course they offered in art). Graduate school became my goal. To get enough art credits to go to graduate school, I attended the University of Buffalo art department for 3 years with a double major in painting and sculpture. I was then accepted at Cranbrook Academy of Art and graduated with an MFA in Painting.
I have spent 35 years in the automotive and defense industries working full time and helping to raise a family. I spent as much free time as I could doing art and all that goes with that process (showing work, taking my slides to various galleries, discussing art with other artists, photographing the work, but mostly making art.) I have shown work since 1978 and plan to continue that into the future.
One of the very best opportunities through my work life was to travel (both for work and on vacations with my family). Some of those destinations included numerous National Parks in the US, England, Ireland, France, Spain, Guatemala, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Eastern Canada, and the Caribbean. My experiences have been a great influence in my artwork.
I hope you enjoy this website and I look forward to hearing from you to carry on the "art" conversation!