Town Hall gallery: Crofut’s work a window on complexity of life
SHARON — Paintings by East Canaan artist Erika Crofut are on display at the Town Hall gallery this month. Crofut, who is chairman of the art department at the Salisbury School, is one of those rare individuals who knew what she wanted her life’s work to be from a young age — in fact, from the time she was in third grade in Sandisfield, Mass.Her decision to become an artist wasn’t a surprise, to her or anyone else in a family that was dedicated to creative pursuits. Her father is a musician. Her mother, a painter. One sister is a dancer and the other a painter. When asked why she wanted to paint, Crofut said simply, “It makes me happy.” She added, “I love the work involved in painting, I love the labor.”Crofut has been on the staff of the Salisbury School for 18 years, with a one-year leave of absence.“I like to push students when I can, to help them reach their potentials.”One of the things she particularly likes about the all-boys boarding school, she said, is that the students come from such different backgrounds, and so many parts of America and the world. In addition to her teaching and administrative duties, she also designs posters for art and music department productions at the school.Diversity seems to be a key part of her life, as is the sense that all these fragments combine to create a richer life.In the artist statement she prepared for the Town Hall exhibit, Crofut wrote, “A theme in my work is the idea of continuity — that my life is just a piece of something larger, which is uninterrupted throughout time. Many of my projects are my own attempts to interpret and visually articulate ties between history, family, stories and poems.”Those are ambitious ideas to try and translate onto a canvas. Crofut does it in part by concentrating and capturing small moments: “The white laundry against a blue sky, great faces that smile unsuspectingly out of old photographs, or the tender warm feeling of reading children bedtime stories.”Pigeons and laundry particularly attract her imagination, she said, because they make wonderful shadows.Crofut’s work has been exhibited in Great Barrington, Salisbury, The Wells Gallery in Lenox, Mass., and other venues. Living up to the old adage that “If you want something done, give it to a busy person to do,” Crofut also curates shows for galleries.The artist is also working on a children’s book project with a friend. And she serves as a substitute mentor at the artgarage after-school program at Housatonic Valley Regional High School.Crofut said one of the most moving experiences in her life was spending a month in Spain with her 17-year-old daughter, Robin Crofut-Brittingham. “I see layers in all work, and the experience of traveling with my daughter in Spain brought so many different layers into view.”When asked what comes next in her artistic life, Crofut replied, “I’m still trying to figure that out.” But, she added confidently. “It will come to me.”Paintings by Erika Crofut will be on display for the month of October at the Town Hall, during regular business hours. Crofut’s website is www.erikacrofut.com.