Focusing on the Living
consuming, loss, the passage of time—J.J. McCracken constructs immersive installations. McCracken’s landscapes
are composed of earth materials and activated by sound, smell, taste, and
living models that move through them, focused on tasks they’ve been assigned.
Sometimes, repeating cycles of productive activity yield accumulation—and then
things fall apart. Other times, consumption is incessant but drones on, unable
to satisfy. In McCracken’s work, there is (so far) always a foil for the notion
of achievement, and there is (so far) always a reflection of the cycle of
Hunger, Philadelphia, a recent project, uses geophagy (clay-eating) as a launching
point for a visual poem about need. Geophagia occurs worldwide, problematic in
countries suffering severe food crises. During the exhibition, clay-covered
models move through an arid, monochromatic landscape eating clay casts of
fruits and vegetables. The excessive consumption of a visually bountiful but
non-nutritive food substitute is central to the main idea of the project.
projects include Living Sculpture, a
series of separate but interacting vignette stages built to house individual
performances. Task-based activity cycles through making/un-making. Time markers
that form flexible but regular intervals are made visible/audible through labor
and product, and then through subsequent decomposition. Time itself appears to
progress, invert, and suspend simultaneously.
an ongoing series of sketches she calls Slip/Skin
Studies, McCracken explores thoughts about consumption and loss. There
is often an attempt to recapture something missing, or a grasping at something
just out of reach. Witness to the Passing of the
World uses repetitive searching and discarding, and closes with a
final act of gathering what is leftover as the action begins to subside. In the
end, the discarded becomes the embraced.
J.J. McCracken received
a B.A. in Anthropology from The College of William and Mary in 1995, an
M.F.A. in Studio Art from The George Washington University in 2005, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2012. McCracken
is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, recently including a Louis
Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2011), a Maryland State Arts Council
Individual Artist Award (2011), and a Puffin Foundation Grant (2011).
Hunger, Philadelphia was commissioned by The Clay Studio and independent
curator John Perreault. The project received support for development and
planning from the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, a program of the
Philadelphia Center for the Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable
Trusts and administered by the University of the Arts. Additional project
funding was provided in part by the William Penn Foundation (2010) and by a
grant from the Harpo Foundation with sponsorship by the Arlington Arts Center (2009).
McCracken has also
received a Chenven Foundation Award (2008) and both an Individual Artist
Fellowship and a Small Projects Grant from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and
Humanities (2008). Among other older awards, her STASIS project
received “Best In Show” in the Ceramic Objects/Conceptual Material exhibition
during the “Crafting Content” symposium at the University of Arkansas,
J.J. McCracken has
exhibited at venues across the United States and is currently building large
scale projects with the generous support of a position as Artist-In-Residence
at Red Dirt Studio in Mt. Rainier, MD.