By Madeleine Peck Wagner
Sometimes, and always when least expected, my phone buzzes and in comes an image of wit and inventiveness that makes my day. That this image will often inflame my own imagination is, I think a testament to artist, art director, and designer Natalie McCray-Krauz’s extraordinary ability to transform the most mundane of objects into objects of desire and veneration. The whole she creates is always more than the sum of its parts.
Recent exchanges have included a multimedia portrait of about 4 x 6 feet with patterned details and velvet-soft lips; a glass vase that looks like it was made by Circe herself; and the cover to this, the 30th Anniversary Issue of Arbus. Looking at her works, even on a small, cracked iPhone screen, the thing that stands out is how light and texture play across the surfaces, how that which is handmade is elevated by thoughtful design, and how areas of seeming imperfection just work.
In the past, McCray-Krauz’s multi-media have been compared to Wangechi Mutu and Thierry Mugler. Though those comparisons hold, seeing McCray-Krauz’s work through the dual lens of Israel and Greece—the two countries where she primarily splits her time—offers context-inspired departures. Considering the monumental mythical and archaeological role both countries occupy in a global context, much of McCray-Krauz’s work feels burnished by time and kissed by the sun. A balance between ideas that look forward even as they acknowledge the past.