KEARNEY — From the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, self-taught artist Reece Crawford awoke to “visions” of the people in her North Omaha community.
She felt compelled to make small sculptures of them.
Created over the span of a few short years, the resulting vibrant, colorful, animated works are an ode to the artist’s “hood,” as she called it. Crawford found inspiration from African and American history as well as her imagination.
An exhibit of Crawford’s work, “Reece Crawford: Visions of a Community,” brings together 18 of her works from the Museum of Nebraska Art’s collection, including recent gifts by longtime friend and art associate, Judith Shepard. The show opens on Tuesday at the museum at 2401 Central Ave. and continues through April 7.
Born in 1955 in Springfield, Mass., Crawford moved to Omaha in 1969 when her mother remarried.
An untrained artist, she first created whimsical figurative and relief sculpture using sawdust and water. The art quickly fell apart and Crawford searched for an alternative. While working for a software company in 1989, the artist asked to use shredded paper she found at her worksite. She combined the paper, household glue and fabric softener and finally found a recipe for making her figures.
Crawford painted the paper mâché with a commercial paint. In later works, she sometimes added dolls’ eyes and hair purchased at local hobby shops.
Crawford’s work has been exhibited in Omaha at the Great Plains Black Museum, Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center and Artspace. In 1993, she was awarded a Regional Visual Arts Fellowship by the Mid-America Arts Alliance and the National Endowment for the Arts.