Crystal Wagner (’08)

Category: Alumni Promise | Awards

2022 Alumni Promise Award Winner

From the walls of the Knoxville Museum of Art to the facade of a medieval castle in France, Crystal Wagner creates other-worldly visual experiences with her innovative technique of combining familiar and unfamiliar 3D and 2D shapes. Wagner’s large-scale exterior and interior installations are recognized internationally. She graduated from UT’s nationally ranked printmaking program with a master’s degree, then taught art as a college professor for five years before resigning and opening her own studio. Using an assortment of materials and techniques, she creates artwork small enough to decorate the inside of a home and large enough to wrap a skyscraper.

Wagner has installed massive pieces of art for rock band The Flaming Lips, NIKE’s The KOBE X Blackout Experience, the United States Embassy, and the Warner Brothers Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. She also created two installations for Viacom—one of the two which was created in Times Square and was nationally broadcast on VH1’s Top 20 Countdown. Other notable commissions include: TOYOTA, Bombay Sapphire, and many others. Using chicken wire for form and often recycled and repurposed materials, Wagner’s custom installation pieces are specific to their location and have been created nationally in the following cities: New York City, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, New Orleans, Dallas, Nashville, Grand Rapids, Fort Smith, Tulsa, Virginia Beach, Mesa, Burlington, Fort Worth, Cape Girardeau, Fort Wayne, Hilo, and Knoxville. Internationally, her creations have taken place in the United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Singapore, Berlin, Italy, and Poland. She has had work featured in Toronto, Berlin, Paris, and Morocco, as well.

The Knoxville Museum of Art acquired one of Wagner’s thesis exhibition sculptures while she was a UT graduate student. Today, the museum houses another one of her pieces as part of its permanent collection and in 2019 she was the museum’s featured artist for L’amour du Vin auction and dinner. She came back to UT in 2015 and worked with students to create an installation piece inside the Art and Architecture building.

Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Architectural Digest, Artnet, Hi Fructose Magazine, Juxtapoz Magazine, Art & Science Journal, Graffiti Art Magazine, Complex Art & Design Magazine, Crome Yellow Magazine, Catapult Art Magazine, My Modern Met, Beautiful Decay Magazine, and Art & Object Magazine, among many more. In 2015, Wagner was awarded the Pollock-Krasner Grant, a highly sought-after monetary award to provide financial freedom for professional artists to create work.