Crystal Schenk has a very labor-intensive and detail-oriented way of working, in which craftsmanship and material choices play a large role. Her sculptures address issues of physical and mental health/illness, memory, class structure, and social interaction. Much of her subject matter is drawn from her own familial history. Schenk says her work often starts as a lingering feeling or impression that defies words and imagery; she spends a long time meditating on a sentiment, turning it over and over in my mind like a worry stone. It is important for her to hunt down the perfect metaphors and representations until she finds one that resonates.
Crystal Schenk received an MFA from Portland State University in 2007, and BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999. She lives and works in Portland, Oregon, USA.
Schenk's artwork has been published in Sculpture and Craft magazines. She was awarded the International Sculpture Center's Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award for 2006, and was subsequently selected as the recipient of ISC's artist in residency program at Art-st-urban in Switzerland. While there, she completed a suite of nine new sculptural works, which are featured in a permanent solo exhibition at Art-st-urban. In 2009 Art-st-urban awarded Schenk with the institution's first Emerging Sculptor Award. Schenk was selected as one of 19 artists to be represented in the recent Oregon biennial, Portland 2010. During the course of 2011 she is returning periodically to Switzerland to make a new series of sculptures at Art-st-urban and is currently working on a public commission for Division Street in Portland, Oregon with her husband and sometimes collaborator Shelby Davis.