Crystal Cawley

Mixed Messages Circle Skirt.jpg

In Crystal Cawley’s own words: “I start with something tangible, whether it’s a discarded library book, a decrepit piece of furniture, a worn tablecloth, a box of old greeting cards or puzzle pieces, or leftovers from other projects. I enjoy responding to what’s already there, something with its own visual history that becomes part of what I make - I love the challenge of merging disparate materials and ideas into something more. My work combines my interests in the form and history of clothing and the possibilities of paper and fabric sculpture with traditional handiwork like embroidery, spinning, and letterpress printing.”

In addition to numerous libraries, Cawley’s work is in the collections of the Portland Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Graphic Arts Collection, National Museum of American History, The White House (ornaments collection), and the Library of Congress.

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, 1987
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, 1962
Winchester School of Art, Winchester, England, 1981

Portland, ME

Museums & Public Collections

  • Boston Public Library, Boston, MA

  • Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, ME

  • Center for Book Arts, New York, NY

  • Columbia University Library, New York, NY

  • The Library of Congress, Washington, DC

  • MOMA/Franklin Furnace Artists’ Book Collection, New York, NY

  • Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME

  • Portland Public Library, Portland, ME

  • Rhode Island School of Design Library, Providence, RI

  • Smithsonian Institution, Graphic Arts Collection, National Museum of American History, Washington, DC

  • University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, VA

  • University of Washington Library, Seattle, WA

  • The White House (ornaments collection), Washington, DC

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2018 - Crystal Cawley, Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT

  • 2017 - This Must Take a Long Time, Speedwell Gallery, Portland, ME

  • 2014 - Thinking Caps and Other Accessories, Owen Art Gallery, Gould Academy, Bethel, ME

  • 2010 - Protective Coloration, SPACE Gallery, Portland, ME

  • 2008 - Books do Furnish a Room, Filament Gallery, Portland, ME

  • 2007 - Time Pieces, Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery, Providence College, Providence, RI

  • 2005 - Artist’s Books & Other Ephemera, Alcott Gallery, UNC-Chapel Hill, NC

  • 2004 - Discards: Works on Pages, Towne Art Gallery, Wheelock College, Boston, MA

  • 2002 - The House of Lost Things and Other Books, Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts, Blue Mountain Lake, NY


2012 - Award of Merit: In, On, Of Paper; Paper Circle Gallery, Nelsonville, OH

2010, 2004 - Maine Arts Commission, Good Idea Grant, Augusta, ME

2005 - Pollock-Krasner grant, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York, NY