In this episode, I talk with painter and conceptual artist, Crystalle Lacouture. Crystalle’s work is so timely and important right now as we face increased gun violence in the US as well as an increased cultural awareness around the importance of holding space for grief and mourning. With a father working in hospitality in high end hotels and restaurants, and a mother who established herself as a well-known herbalist, Cyrstalle developed a sense of formal material awareness, well-being, and sumptuousness early on.
Crystalle holds a BFA in Painting and Printmaking from Skidmore College and spent time in Brooklyn with her husband before moving to Massachusetts to raise their three children. Early on, she worked as a studio assistant for Nancy Spero and Leon Golub, and their activism remained an influential force in her life. We discuss how her inclinations toward the visual were present when she received the very unexpected news that her mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in the height of the Covid-19 lockdown. Crystalle’s response was to send Mama Drawings, gouache interventions on top of paper targets from a gun range, as a form of protection for her mother since she was not able to be physical with her at the end of her life.
We discuss how these formal interventions of geometric and mandala-like forms on top of the violent masculine form of the target are infinite in their possibilities and so powerful symbolically. Crystalle has evolved the work to offer the act of repetitive form-making as a ritual of love and protection for all facing increased risk of gun violence, and we discuss her hopes to share large installations of the work with her audience.
We bond over and appreciate the value of the walk from home to detached backyard studio as artists raising children. As we wrap up, we discuss how Crystalle’s various conceptual works address the practice of singing lullabies as an act of care and the process of ritualized grieving as personal ritual and art practice. As Crystalle shares, “Repetition is love”, and I connected so strongly with the idea that repeating something makes it devotional and that making a repetitive system can show something or someone that you love it. I hope you connect with the ways that Crystalle uses form, beauty, and devotional practices to show care as well as instigate very hard conversations about violence, loss, and grief.
Biggest Art Crush: Mary Sully
Dream Trip: Japan
Film or book: The Sea, the Sea
Favorite meal: A long table of fresh food in the south of France
Shoutout: Husband and “The Tribe of the World”
To see more of Crystalle’s work please visit her website and follow her on IG @cyrstalleacouture
The Artist/Mother podcast is created and hosted by Kaylan Buteyn. You can see more of Kaylan’s work on her website or connect with her on Instagram @kaylanbuteyn
Power Place, 2022, oil on canvas, 48 x 40”
Installation, “Time Keeper” framed woodblock prints in “The New Drawing Room”, Mass Art SoWa, 2022
Ode, 2023, oil on canvas, 40 x 35”
Installation of MAMA drawings in Studio – dimensions variable, 2022
MAMA Drawing #73, 2022, gouache and colored pencil on Score Keeper shooting target, 11 x 17”