Crystal Schenk received an MFA from Portland State University in 2007, and BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999. She lives and works in Portland, Oregon, USA.
Schenk employs a high degree of skill and craft to her art, earning her a reputation for work that is not just conceptually strong, but adeptly executed as well. Her artwork has been published in Sculpture and Craft magazines. She was awarded the International Sculpture Center's Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award for 2006, and was subsequently selected as the recipient of ISC’s artist in residency program at Art-st-urban in Switzerland. This was a six week, fully funded residency during the summer of 2007, which provided both live and work space and the opportunity to meet many of Switzerland’s artists, collectors and curators. While there, she completed a suite of nine new sculptural works, which were featured in a six month solo exhibition at Art-st-urban. In 2009 Art-st-urban awarded Schenk with the institution’s first Emerging Sculptor Award. Recently, she participated in a three month artist residency at Milepost 5 in Portland, where she collaborated with artist Shelby Davis in the creation of a life-size semi truck made of drywall. Schenk was selected as one of 19 artists to be represented in the 2010 Oregon biennial, Portland 2010.
Schenk is an adjunct professor at Pacific Northwest College of Art and Portland State University.
I have a very labor-intensive and detail-oriented way of working, in which craftsmanship and material choices play a large role. My sculptures address issues of physical and mental health/illness, class, memory, and social interaction. Much of my subject matter is drawn from my familial history. Often my work starts as a lingering feeling or impression that defies words and imagery. I spend a long time meditating on this sentiment, turning it over and over in my mind like a worry stone. It is important for me to hunt down the perfect metaphors and representations until I find one that resonates.