Artist Q&A w/ Crystal Bean

Crystal Bean is an artist at VTSU Castleton who experiments with multiple mediums, set to earn her degree in Sculpture this semester.

Crystal Bean is a McNair Scholars student and senior Studio Art major with a concentration in Sculpture. She sat down to chat about her passion for her work. 

Q. How long have you been an artist?

A. I started when I was in pre-school. When I was 9 years old, I walked into Campbell Plaster and Iron, I was one of the extras in a film for Giancola’s, and it was full of sculptures. Glen Campbell gave me modeling wax and I went home and made my first piece. He put investment around it, which is plaster and sand, put it into a kiln, and poured liquid metal in. The wax melts away and you’re left with a metal piece identical to the piece you started with. 

Q. From high school to college, what type of art did you do? 

A. I did a lot of portraiture, miniature bronze pieces, musician replicas, and jewelry made of bone or modeled after the Maui tradition. I’ve also done casting and gauges. 

Q. What’s your favorite piece you’ve done to date?

A. There’s a self-portrait I did of my eye that’s 3 feet by 3 feet, called “Eye of the Beholder,” done with acrylic on stretched canvas. It’s a photorealistic piece. I had my fiancé take macro images of my eyes, and because I have pigmentary dispersion syndrome, my eyes are pretty unique looking. It turned out accurate, and it’s hard to get proportions correct to where it matches reality. I did that one in under a week’s time. 

“Eye of the Beholder”

Q. What piece has taken you the most time? 

A. The TV, called “Emergence.” The idea is that there’s a being, or life-form that’s trying to emerge from a dimensional portal into our reality through our electronics. I broke down two Xboxes, two laptops, the TV itself, and made the screen out of plexiglass. I used pipe hanger on the inside and metal tape to make it reflective. I used wires to make the muscles, red wires for the veins, and zip ties for the tendons. I wanted it to represent anatomy while also embellishing it. 


Q. What subjects or themes inspire you? 

A. Psychology, emotional states and scientific phenonium. Those are the three I’m focusing on right now. 

Q. What artists inspire you? 

A. Auguste Rodin because of his work with the human form, Odaffer Eliassen for his installations with light and Alex Gray because of his focus on coloring and the connectedness of the universe. 

Q. What are you currently working on?

A. I’m working on a series of hallowed sculptures. One is made from screen covered with a plaster bandage called “Bronze Implosion.” 

Q. What’s your favorite step of the artistic process?

A. Just being in the mode of building. I love adding the plaster bandage onto a piece because it’s going from just the armature, which is the internal structure, and around it you build your sculptural form. It’s a transformative step that I like doing around screen because it keeps it hallow while not being too heavy. 

Q. What’s been the key to your success?

A. These wonderful professors I’ve had. At CCV, Susanna Colby taught me about color theory and painting. Here, Phil Whitman and Oliver Schemm didn’t just teach me how to do art, they taught me the theory behind art. The reason why you do it and how to interact with viewers. Art history. Before college, I thought art was just about producing something [aesthetically] beautiful. Now, it’s about communication with the viewer and sharing a message. 

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