UAB printmaking professor Derek Cracco starts his signature works with an abstract design painted on board. Then, in his studio in the UAB bulk mail facility, he works it over with paint and collage in layers. Some vestiges show through a thin veil of overlaying printed images. Some round places are covered over and remain untouched while the work goes on, then uncovered and revealed when the work is finished and sealed in a final coat of resin.
Some of the collage material embedded within these layers consists of whole pages of magazines that are partly or wholly painted over. Some of the images are cut out from the start and worked around. So, conceptually, the process is a function of either concealing or revealing.
According to Cracco, this process creates a surface in which the objects within the composition float between successive layers of paint and resin, creating a three-dimensional effect in which images are suspended within a “soup of atmosphere.”
Cracco studies NASA photographs of stars and galaxies in his studio to measure the relative size and spacing of the suspended orb-images.
The subject matter of the collage material reveals images and expectations, male and female. He finds the archaic pulp magazine material on ebay.
“These works use collaged ephemera, such as romance novels, fifties pin ups, and men’s health magazines to explore society’s fantasies and fascination with romance. The imagery challenges the viewer to consider the ideals promoted by these pulp publications, and to compare them with the realities of their own lives and the concepts of romantic love.”
Sometimes the actual photographic images of muscle-bound men and bosomy babes embody more fantasy than the imagined cartoon figures. By inference, the work explores the relationship between the body and consciousness.
As Carl Gustav Jung observed, “When one reflects upon what consciousness really is, one is profoundly impressed by the extreme wonder of the fact that an event which takes place outside in the cosmos simultaneously produces an internal image, that it takes place, so to speak, inside as well, which is to say becomes conscious.”
For Cracco, that cosmos starts in the archetypes of the mind’s interior and extends to the outside universe’s infinity, and vice versa.