Caya Crum recently finished two murals at The Bearded Lady in the city’s Near Southside neighborhood, but at 17, the rising senior isn’t old enough to enjoy the establishment’s full beverage menu.

The artist already has other murals around the city at the Swiss Pastry Shop, the Welman Project and on the facade of a private home. She refurbished the Massey’s Chicken sign at “The Pool,” which is the only permanent installation at the new art gallery. And she also won second place at the Mayor Mattie Parker High School Art Competition this spring.

“I just try to do it whenever I can,” Crum said of making art. During the school year, she’ll often squeeze in studio time during lunch or after finishing work for other classes. But summer gives her more freedom to work on projects.

Though Crum’s work stands out, she is far from the only creator in her family. Her dad, Carl, is a photographer and filmmaker. Her mom, Betsy, is a photographer and digital artist while her 10-year-old sister, Tavi, draws and dreams of becoming a chef.

Caya Crum described the style of her murals at The Bearded Lady as like “a tattoo on a building.”  (Marcheta Fornoff | Fort Worth Report)

“It wasn’t even purposeful. We exposed them to art because that’s just what we were doing,” Carl said. “We were never saying that this is the path you should take. It was just kind of her being around that so much that that’s what she liked to do and wanted to do.”

The walls of their home reflect that creativity, featuring works from the family as well as other artists that inspire them.

“Everybody will make art and put it on the walls,” Caya shared. “But there’s also a bunch of different things that we all like in the house, and everybody has an influence on what goes up in the house.”

Betsy also deflects credit for her daughters’ creativity and instead points to the girls’ cousins who drew with them when they came to babysit, giving them tips on how to draw hands and eyes, and Caya’s high school art teacher Cavan Crane.

“I think I’ve always been great at having a massive amount of art supplies readily available, not because I use them, but because I like to buy them,” Betsy said. “But I can’t say I’ve taught Caya how to draw or paint. She’s learned all of that on her own, same with Tav.” 

When the family lived closer to the TCU stadium, the two girls decided to put up what was essentially a lemonade stand for art.

“I would set up a picnic table in the front yard and sell pieces of printer paper that I had drawn on and mugs that I had drawn on,” Caya recalls. “And I remember people buying those and that making me feel really good.” 

Caya Crum stands next to one of her recent paintings.  (Marcheta Fornoff | Fort Worth Report)

Since then she’s sold her work at art fairs, the Montgomery Street Antique Mall and online through Instagram and her mom’s Etsy shop. Caya said she still gets excited, “every single time” she sells a piece or books a new commission.

“Almost all of her clients and commissions and all that are adults. I’m sure it was kind of scary at first, but she engages with them,” Carl said. “She’ll write up a contract or an estimate and she’ll have us look at it afterwards, and make sure it looks good. But she’s doing (it) all.”

“Yeah, we’re not the middle man,” Besty added.

But, for her part, Caya does credit her parents and sister, whom she often collaborates with on photoshoots, for providing inspiration.

I feel like since we all kind of work from home, we’re able to be creating different types of art together … So he’s working on film, and photography, and you’re (gestures to her mom, Betsy) doing photography and digital art and Tav’s doing photography and sketchbook stuff… and then I’m painting,” she explained. “It’s all these different types of mediums under the same roof, which is cool.”

At night, the family will frequently gather to watch documentaries together – they’re big fans of Joanna Lumley on the BBC – and work on various projects.

“It’s definitely something that we’re always doing is making art,” Betsy said.

Caya is in New York at NYU’s High School Summer Art Intensive, and plans to start submitting college applications soon. She hasn’t settled on where she wants to go, but she has decided on her major.  All I know for sure is I want a BFA in studio art,” she said. 

Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at marcheta.fornoff@fortworthreport.org or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Marcheta Fornoff

For just over seven years Marcheta Fornoff performed the high wire act of producing a live morning news program on Minnesota Public Radio. She led a small, but nimble team to cover everything from politics...