Local Artist Expresses Deep Ideas Through Art


CULLMAN – Local artist Denise Thomas-McCrary has been diving into the world of art since she was a young child. She has been taking lessons and exploring her abilities since she was 13. Her art is contemporary, and definitely one of a kind. She was kind enough to share her story with us.

“The first Christmas present I remember getting was when I was 6-years-old and Santa brought me a huge round box of crayons that had shades of every color,” said McCrary. “I always colored; I never played much with dolls. Then I started taking formal drawing lessons when I was 13. The first thing I drew was a group of willow trees with faces, their limbs like arms, swaying in the wind.”

Eventually McCrary went to college where things took a turn for her, and her art.

“I received an art scholarship to Wallace, but soon transferred out to ATL via Santa Barbara California,” she said. “In Atlanta I was soon told, by my engineer boyfriend at the time & everyone else, that art is a fine hobby, but not a viable career choice, so I ended up as a draftsman, drawing floor plans for the Marriott Marquis in Jakarta Indonesia. Art was dead to me then.”

Luckily, McCrary did find her art again, and has since started working with materials that are unique for a painter.

“I use acrylics & some oil on mounted luan board with plaster, spackle and other household or commercial stuff for texture. I started out painting on knotted plywood because my father and husband were doing woodworking projects that left scraps lying around, so I used wood out of necessity. Now it's what I prefer. I've also painted on canvas & Masonite, but one is too fragile, the other too heavy for my purposes.”

The road has not always been easy, and McCrary has had to face hardships along the way. A debilitating medical condition forced a step back from her art, and life in general.

“There have been many starts and stops along the way,” she said. “Sometimes just existing takes precedence over actual living. I was diagnosed with an incurable muscle disease called Dermatomyosit that left me bed-ridden for two years and has involved intensive physical therapy to get myself back to a point where I can, once again, participate in the things that make life worth living. With help from my husband, John, and 80-year-old daddy, Dennis, I did get up, and here I am living life again.”

McCrary has two major collections so far: Her Dreams and CHAOS collection that symbolize a myriad of different social commentary as well as emotions. Her work is dramatic and at the same time subtle. Her use of color and texture make for absolutely amazing pieces that could hang in any home or gallery. Her works have been shown at many notable shows including the Magic City Art Connection in Birmingham, the Kentucky Festival of the Arts in Northport and Bluff Park to name only a few.

“I'm inspired by everything from the sky to animals and people,” she said. “I'm, of course, inspired by current & past socio-political events as is seen in many of my CHAOS Series like Maneater. All things are seen through the filter of art to an artistically-bent person, in the way everything is numbers to an engineer. To me, life has been one long piece of performance art.”

To learn more about this artist, visit her Facebook Nicky McCrary or email her at nickymccrary@gmail.com.

Photos Contributed by Artist