SARAH WALKO: How do you usually start your day?
CRAIG DRENNEN: Since my day usually starts before sunrise, I start by fumbling my way out of bed in the dark.
SW: What have you been listening to this past week?
CD: A lot of Sleigh Bells and Tomahawk in the studio this week. And I pulled up some old Flipper tracks that I hadn’t listened to in years–and they were still great. A new intern wanted to hear Devo, so we had a Devo afternoon that turned out to be amazing.
SW: What are you currently reading or recently read?
CD: I’m finally reading Bret Easton Ellis’s Imperial Bedrooms. And I’ve been repeatedly re-reading an Anne Beattie short story called The Bowl, mainly because it seems so thoughtful and emotional and perfectly crafted. It’s an honor to experience a work that seems perfect in every way.
SW: When did you begin to make art?
CD: I can vividly remember making drawings as a 3-year old. It has continued uninterrupted since then.
SW: Who were a few very strong individuals or specific influences (people, places, experiences or things) that may have served as thresholds or break through moments in the evolution of your practice?
CD: School was always easy to me, so in the first grade when I finished my work early the teacher would let me look through the encyclopedias in the classroom as long as I would keep quiet. I remember looking up “art” in the encyclopedia as a first grader in central West Virginia and knowing that was what my life would be. It’s kind of extraordinary, actually.
SW: Does healing/catharsis play a role in your thoughts/working process (if any) as you make decisions on materials, transformation and symbolism?
CD: My first response would be to say no. But I do like to begin long, multi-year projects from unstable information platforms, then work hard to stabilize the resulting artworks. That mirrors “healing” in some way I think, even if it would have never occurred to me use that term.
SW: Are any of your pieces self portraits?
CD: I’ve come to accept that the two biggest projects I’ve done—Supergirl in the early 2000’s and Timon of Athens now—are both extended self-portraits.
SW: What is one current project you are working on?
CD: I’m working on introducing the character of Poet for my Timon of Athens project. It always takes a lot of physical and mental energy to get a new character off the ground.
SW: Do you spend a lot of time in the studio alone or need a lot of think space alone time? What is your balance of the need to retreat into a reclusive state to continually reconnect with your individual voice and then also be out in the world working with others, exhibiting, lecturing etc.?
CD: My natural inclination is to be a studio hermit. I have to work against that inclination nearly every day.
SW: Are you Land or Sea?
CD: Land. Near the sea.
SW: What kind of bird are you?
CD: Falcon. They’re merciless, accurate, and fast.
The Raven is a column on ETTD by Sarah Walko.