Artist Statement

I use portraiture to discuss the connection between someone's physical and spiritual identities. The physical self is often represented by a face, while the spiritual self utilizes more complex identifiers. These identifiers include such things as thoughts in the form of words or sound, emotions and personalities in the form of facial expressions or gestural brushstrokes, memories and ideas in the form of video inlays and projections, histories and relationships in the form of openable books and boxes, and numerous other intangible scenarios via metaphor and material.

I became interested in the self/self relationship because I didn't fully understand it. Who am I? What is my purpose? Where did I come from? Would the world be the same without me? How is it possible that I am alive? What does it mean to be human, and so on.

Article III

Gallery Artist Craig Paul Nowak
Written by: Kim Laux
Published in:

For centuries, artists have explored the expression of the self through their work. Often the representation is obvious, such as a reflection in the mirror. Other times, the image is so subtle that it could be easily overlooked by the casual observer. Regardless of how an artist chooses to portray the self, it is more important to examine the reasons why.

Through his portraits, artist Craig Paul Nowak is determined to help people understand the relationship between identity and inner consciousness as well as their own “self” and the selves of those around them.

“Although all of my work is self portraiture, it is not about myself,” said Nowak, who majored in fine arts at CCS. “It focuses on the relationship between physical identity and their inner consciousness. I express this connection through self portraits because I can only observe and/or understand my own inner consciousness.

“I'm actually interested in gaining a better understanding of human beings in general and passing that understanding on to my audience. I'm not bound to any particular media; the idea determines the materials best used to express it.” In September 2007, Nowak was invited to show work in the Dock’s Biennial show in Lyon, France. These works included paintings on books and video inlayed and/or projected onto paintings. Many of the pieces will be displayed in unorthodox ways, such as hung away from the wall using jewelry wire, hung on hinges with the painting on the front and back of the canvas, standing on pedestals atop of another painting, flat on the floor with the painting on the back of the canvas and traditional paintings with drawings or words scratched into the background.

Nowak’s inclusion in the contemporary art fair came as the result of an exclusive contract with Moka Gallery in Chicago earlier in the year. Since signing on with Moka, they have published advertisements for his portraits in multiple publications, featured his work at Art Santa Fe and Art Miami, helped him land the Mano y Mente residency in Tularosa, New Mexico, and arranged an artist residency for him in Beijing, China, as part of an exchange program involving NY Arts magazine. They have also sold his work to several important collectors.

Nowak attributes much of his professional success to the preparation he received as a student.

“I couldn’t have done any of this without CCS,” Nowak explained. “Before attending, I was oblivious to anything having to do with art and most things having to do with life. Now I feel confident in the knowledge that's been instilled in me. The experience was priceless.”