Originally from Crown Point, IN, Alicia Criswell earned her BFA and Spanish minor from Saint Mary's College of Notre Dame in 2005. Before returning to school to earn her MA in Counseling Psychology: Art Therapy from Adler University in Chicago, Criswell worked in special education and taught art classes in after school programs and community centers. Criswell works as an art therapist and continues to teach a variety of children and adult classes, including mixed media, painting, sculpture, paper making, and book making.
"My work has always been a reflection on biology, psychology, and human nature. Often with underlying humor and the use of unconventional materials, I seek to compel viewers to reexamine their previous understanding of everyday existence. I have explored whether social mores or biological impulses affect one’s behavior and reactions to certain images, whether one’s culture reinforces more aversions than it does attractions, and why some images elicit more expressions of disgust than others.
I draw from my experiences working with individuals diagnosed with severe mental illness to depict concepts of perception, insight, memory, and reality. In my latest work, I use cosmetics, beauty products that have the potential to disguise, enhance, and transform one's identity, in an attempt to depict with realism what most people seek to hide. My work alludes to the figurative and literal barriers that we impose upon ourselves, as well as the stigmas that are thrust upon us by others. I want to create a balance between provocation and curiosity, so that viewers can contemplate whether the meaning they attach to my work is influenced by their own memory or current perception."
Alicia Dawn Criswell