Art is a reflection of
ourselves and times
Crystal is a visual artist specializing in portraits of characters who are strong, powerful, spirited individuals who transcend the norm.
Her beautiful yet strong characters are able to find a sense of empowerment from within, in an otherwise world where they are perceived in a different light.
My name is Crystal Starks-Webb, I am one of six children and I grew up in Detroit, Mi. I am a self taught artist that started at a young age. I have over 15 year of experience. I have always had this drive and need to learn art. I am a stay-at-home mom of four and I am influenced by my personal life most. So I incorporated my personal life in my art through painting and drawing. My artist career I would say is just starting.
I am a portrait artist with a concentration in traditional mediums. The mediums I choose to use range from painting with oils, acrylics and watercolors to drawing with charcoal, pencils and pastels. My work is always evolving and I enjoy working with different mediums depending on my inspiration at that moment or what is readily available to me. One thing that is special to me is that no matter where I am, if I have a pencil or pen, I will always find a way to continue expressing myself through art. Right now my focus is in painting, I love the flow, freedom and realism painting can convey through its wide range of colors, textures, and different surfaces you can use.
My work and life have gone through a lot of dramatic phases which have contributed greatly to my passion, inspiration and to the vision of my art. I would contribute this to three major changes in my life: The birth of my children, my life struggle with mental and physical disabilities and the death of my parents. Within the last 2 years my art/ creative process has changed to be more personal, like using my children more specifically my daughter as my muse. I found it quite difficult to put myself out there and do something so personal. I am extremely critical of my work. Taking a step back and really thinking about what my concepts are like the background or the clothing color scheme has never been more difficult then in my current series.
I want to capture the true beauty within an individual by telling a visual story through my art. My daughter does not have a large representation of herself in her everyday life, so I wanted to show her that through my art. I want to continue to draw the essence of children because of their innocence, vulnerability, their excitement and enjoyment of life. Everyone has a story and there is only one story to be told and I hope I can express that through my work.
I have struggled with my mental and physical disabilities for years now, but my passion for art carries me through it. I am inspired by artists like; Van Gogh, Michelangelo, and Frida Kahlo because even with their disabilities and life's struggles they continue their craft. As Seneca put it: “ What is painting but silent poetry?” My future aspect is to express myself more through my art because sometimes our life struggles or obstacles can be our most important resource.
A great influence on my current and future work I would have to say is my parents. I find now that my parents have passed on I’ve had this greater desire to have a deeper connection to them. My mother was an activist and she taught me the importance of community and having one's voice being heard. Losing my father at the end of 2019 really pushed me to fulfill my dream of making art into a career. He would always try to push me to fulfill my dreams as any parent would. My family has always taken my art seriously and tried to get me to make it into something. Family is important to me, they reflect our core values, experiences, foundation, morals, principles and shapes our characters as individuals. My future and current work will each have a meaningful and intentional message to convey how I view them.
I believe art is a visual manifestation of the times we live in. Art is a representation of the past, present and future. I am inspired by artists in music, art and people in politics, strong women like my mother and my children and the times we are currently living in. I wasn’t one to put too much of my thoughts into my work. I just reflected what I saw in an image and its likeness. As we find ourselves in dark, and challenging times in the world, I want my art to reflect the times we live and my thoughts on it. Like Nina Simone said:
“An artist's duty as far as I'm concerned is to reflect the times. I think that is true of painters, sculptors, poets, musicians. As far as I'm concerned it's their choice. But I choose to reflect the times and situations in which I find myself. That to me is my duty. At this crucial time in our lives when everything is so desperate, when every day is a matter of survival, I don't think you can help but be involved. Young people, black and white, know this, that is why they are so involved in politics. We will shape and mold this country or it will not be shaped and molded at all any more. So I don't think you have a choice, how can you be an artist and not reflect the times. That to me is the definition of an artist.”
I would like to impact my community by giving them a voice and showing them a more representation of themselves. As African Americans we’ve been severed from our past and I find that we are learning and reconnecting with that. I want to have more of a connection to my heritage and our ancestors. I hope to reflect the beauty, power, of our heart and soul within ourselves; so we as black people can see the value and worth with ourselves. We might not know what tribe we’re from or what traditions we should know. But I believe we already have those within our own families and I want to reflect that. As an artist we are allowed to leave a piece of ourselves our legacy behind, I find that fascinating.