For multimedia artist Debora Cheyenne Cruchon, art cannot happen without endless experimentation. The French-born 28-year-old spends her days as an art director at Los Angeles–based production company Buck and her off-hours creating vibrant, ethereal works that range from colorful pastels to tubular ceramic sculptures to whimsical digital paintings, each more complex—and more dynamic—than the previous one. Using a dizzying array of media (clay, spray paint, Photoshop), Cruchon forms pieces that explore themes of spirituality, ancestry, and environmentalism, each digging deeply into the meaning of the creation process in today’s digital age.
“Trying out a new medium is like being in a science lab,” says Cruchon, who earned her degree in animation from Paris’s Gobelins, l’École de l’Image, before moving to LA in 2016. “The discoveries I make through experimentation expand how I see different media and allow me to push them further.”
Informed by weeks of preliminary research on topics such as Afrofuturism and ecological decay, as well as techniques honed with past creations, Cruchon does not see her projects as creative blank slates, but rather as a series of blurrings of the lines between the analogue and digital worlds. “I’ve been spending so much time with sculptures, watching how light defines their final form,” she says, “that I’ve started approaching the digital painting experience in the same way. [When I paint,] part of me wants the same satisfaction I feel when I finish a sculpture and see the light passing over it. So I ‘sculpt’ the painting, looking for and painting the light as if the subjects are physical objects.”
This past September, Cruchon’s first exhibition at New York’s Barney Savage gallery dove head-on into this dimensional no-man’s-land, hovering between 2D and 3D media. Soft Strobe is a series of digital prints that celebrates her Réunionese ancestry through illustrations of lush foliage, spiritual rituals, and abstract faces; Entre Vues physically manifests her digital characters in the form of plaster and clay heads, sculpted with refined curves and spray-painted baby blue and orange. “There’s abstraction and mystery in my work,” Cruchon says. “The digital pieces and sculptures are set in an unknown place—a domain of the mind. I try to get at the very small space where viewers can step into the digital.”