When Cameron University assistant professor of art Jack Crouch saw the call for entries for Strata Gallery’s Against the Grain juried art exhibition, he knew he had the perfect submission: an oil painting titled “Onward” that presents his unique take on Jacques-Louis David’s “Napoleon Crossing the Alps.” Juror Stephanie Jacinto included Crouch’s painting in her selections for the exhibition, which focuses on works that in some way resist following current trends within the art world. The exhibition is on display through February 5 at Strata Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"This painting is from a series called ‘Remodeling the Masters’ where I contemplate ownership along with contemporary paintings placed within the context of history painting,” Crouch explains. “Pulling from my own experience as a child reading ‘The Wind in the Willows’ and ‘Calvin and Hobbs,’ I engage the viewer with underlying tones of racism and inequality.”
Crouch says that his compositions “hang on a framework discovered through the study of art history and Italian Renaissance artists' use of mathematical perfection. The dynamic quality provided by the Golden Mean helped to elevate my figurative paintings to a status previously reserved for history painting and religious iconography.”
The interactions between figures and animals in invented surrealistic worlds are central to Crouch’s large-scale narrative paintings. “Themes of domesticity and childhood walk hand and hand with those of identity, voyeurism, and social stratification in my colorfully chaotic world,” he says.
Crouch joined this faculty at Cameron in August 2021 and teaches painting and drawing. Born and raised in rural Illinois to an artist father and preschool teacher mother, he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Western Illinois University in 2009. He then earned a Master of Arts degree and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Bradley University.
As a young adult, Crouch struggled with addiction. He uses painting and drawing to express the feelings he experienced as a recovering addict, longing for the simplicity of childhood, something no longer attainable to an individual who has experienced the world as he has. His approach to visually articulating his experiences varies from still life paintings where objects are lonely without the indication of human interaction, to large-scale narrative paintings.