500X Alumna Interview: Lynné Bowman Cravens
500X: Tell us a little about yourself. What is your artistic background?
LBC: I was born and raised in Austin, Texas. Growing up I always had an affinity for art, but I didn’t have any art classes in school until high school. So in the mean time I learned about drawing and painting from my mom, who holds an MFA in painting. When I was thirteen she signed me up for a local photography workshop. It really opened my eyes to a new avenue for creating. After that I began casually making images using disposable cameras and my dad’s old 35mm SLR.
During my first semester in college at St. Edward’s University I took a Photo 1 class; which taught skills in black and white film, film processing, and darkroom printing. I was instantly drawn to the medium and its potential. I felt like I could create something uniquely my own using photography, unlike many of the other artforms I had dabbled in. This is when I decided to fully focus my attention on photography.
I later attended graduate school at the University of North Texas, where I received my MFA in Photography. Here is where I first began to bring my photographic works into the 3D realm. I had been interested in origami since a young age, but it wasn’t until graduate school when I decided to combine my photographic practice with the 3D paper objects I enjoyed so much. This is a path I continue to explore in my current work.
Today I continue my exploration of photography through other media. Currently I am combining my photographic imagery with fabric origami tessellations. I am also working with other techniques and materials such as laser cutting, mirrors, and transparent layers. Through these media and materials, I learn more about what makes photography so exciting to me. I am always seeking to learn new skills and adapt it to my interests and artwork.
500X: What years were you a member of 500X?
LBC: I was a member from 2016 – 2018
500X: Were you ever a 500X officer? If so, what position(s)?
LBC: I was the 500X CADD (Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas) representative for the two years I was a member.
500X: Who were some of the other members with you?
LBC: Sheryl Anaya, Kalee Appleton, Ashley Whitt, Lindsey Larsen, Rachel Livedalen, Rachel Muldez, Clint Bargers, Bernardo Cantú, Steven Foutch, Julie Libersat, Seth Lorenz, Valerie Powell / Hanks, Justin Strickland, James Talambas, Molly Dierks, Ross Faircloth, Chris Ireland, Tabatha Trolli, Tony Veronese
500X: Tell us about your time at 500X. What was it like?
LBC: I think I was a bit overwhelmed during my first six months. There are a lot of duties and responsibilities that the group needs to address and manage as a team. I feel really lucky that was a member alongside some really great artists and people. Working with a large group of artists can be like herding cats, but luckily my colleagues and I found a good rhythm to accomplish both our personal goals and the goals of the gallery.
500X: Do you have a favorite moment from your membership?
LBC: It’s hard to pick just one moment from an eventful two year period at 500X. I think the best and worst moments were the August all-day gallery clean-up days. This marked the beginning of each season. I enjoyed coming together as a group and working to clean and care for the spaces that would host amazing exhibitions throughout the year. It was a tough, hot, and exhausting day. However, this was the one day each year where we got to spend the most time with each other. We’d get dirty and worn out, but then we’d order pizza and drink beer and talk about the future. There is something special in watching everyone come together to care for a space we all believe in.
500X: What do you think you gained from being a 500X member?
LBC: I think everyone joins 500X Gallery for their own reasons, there are a lot of benefits from becoming a member. Though the one that surprised me the most was the connection with previous members, artists who were members before me. You become connected to this local network of successful and experienced artists from the last 40 years! It makes me feel even more connected to the artist community here in DFW. Almost everyone has some connection to 500X, either by being a member or having showed in the space.
One of the best benefits to becoming a 500X Member are the other members. I am especially fond of the colleagues and friends I made during my time there. I didn’t know many of the other members prior to joining, but it was great getting the opportunity to get to know them. While I wish I had more time to just hang out with the other members while at 500X, I cherish the time I did get with them in running the space. It’s great to have many different heads working together to come up with creative solutions to running the gallery.
I also appreciate the extensive experience and understanding of managing an artist-run space. It is no small task to put together the programming for the year and complete everything that needs to get done. There are many moving parts to running an artist space, and it was really invaluable experience to learn all those aspects through being a 500X Member.
500X: How has 500X impacted your career as an artist?
LBC: This is a hard thing to quantify. During my time at 500X, I refocused my career and my artistic goals. The skills and connections I made while at 500X made it possible for me to transition out of teaching and into a successful career in gallery management. This career change has freed up time for my art practice, which is something I was lacking while working multiple teaching positions and putting in time as a 500X member. I have learned how to better manage my time, but also how to say ‘no’ to opportunities that don’t align with my goals. It is hard to find this balance when establishing your career, but having gracious 500X colleagues helps when looking for advice or someone to commiserate with.
When making new work now, I think more thoroughly through how my work will be displayed and how viewers will interact with it. It can look one way in my studio, but it needs to translate when installed as well. I more conscious to work through some of these concerns before installing the work for exhibition. I am also more diligent in preparing my PR materials far in advance of the opening of new exhibitions. After being at 500X, it becomes evident just how far out exhibitions and events need to be promoted. I think the skills and experience I gained from being at 500X really help me be more professional in my art career, and continue to move me toward my artistic goals.