Molly Cassidy is a mixed-media conceptual artist with works that have attracted various features and awards. Set your eyes on her creations and you find yourself immersed in a culture we have yet to discover- one where the words, the colors and textures come together as one, unified by their diversity and distinctive beauty.
Personally, Molly’s work communicated with me in a concise and intimate language, awakening thoughts of the lost joys of childhood shared with the consciousness we develop as adults. But no two feelings are the same for her audiences, nor should they be, as Molly shares the vulnerability and the inner workings of the artistic mind, leaving us with the freedom to interpret each piece as we see fit.
The Molly Cassidy Interview
Hi, Molly! We’d love to know more about you and your beginnings as an artist.
When I was 6 or 7 years old, I remember having to make a picture of a tree and color it in. Faced with the prospect of coloring the trunk was daunting – it was going to be so boring. Therefore, I decided to color it in alternating, zig-zag rows, creating a pattern for the bark. That feeling, approaching what I was doing as an independent person instead of what was perhaps expected, was a very powerful experience. That feeling of breaking away and standing apart, doing my picture the way I want it to be- that’s pretty much how I approach things in art and in life.
And what initially attracted you to calligraphy?
Being a visual person and learning to read at an early age, I came to discover that letters, and subsequently words, are beautiful. I found some calligraphy manuals of my mother’s when I was 11 and felt that the ability to make something already visually arresting even more beautiful was incredible. Starting in 5th grade, I’d take them to class and practice during my free time.
When did you first realize that Mixed Media Conceptual Art was for you?
Technically, I discovered mixed media was my passion about 15 years ago. Intrinsically, it’d been there all along. With the exception of pastel, I loved most art techniques I learned in school and, as both my parents are artistic, grew up in an artistic environment. As a result, my exposure to different methods, media, and approaches grew, and an ability spectrum was built. Someone else actually pointed out to me that it was mixed media. Up until that happened, I figured I was, after considering all the ways to render what I wanted to do, just implementing the best way to present each aspect of the work as a whole.
The inclusion of paper in your art is beyond admirable. Do you think that the tangible nature of paper is even more powerful in this digital age?
I, myself, am a very tactile person (I cannot handle chalk-literally). Perhaps the digital age has heightened it somewhat, but even without its presence , I would gravitate towards paper. To be able to touch the surface of anything, really, pleasant or otherwise, provides a deeper connection for me. So, whereas I can’t really speak for anyone else, I have had a number of people tell me the urge to “reach out and touch” my work is very strong.
Are your pieces meant to convey a particular message?
Almost without exception, there is “something going on” in my work- very rarely is it “just what it is” for me. Something as simple as two fish going after the same thing can provoke curiosity. My hope is that the viewer is drawn to a piece long enough to notice the underlying message(s), and is then provoked, even challenged, to examine how they feel and draw their own conclusions about the content.
The elements of nature are so strong in your art. What is it about nature that deeply influences you?
Nature is a constant, and yet constantly changing. A living allegory for the human condition, if you will. Beautiful and terrifying all in a matter of moments. All of which can lend towards a greater understanding of one’s purpose, relationships, and one’s connection with a Higher Being.
I know that you are a fan of classic literature and much of your work is very poetic. After viewing “Ecclesiastes Meets His Fate,” I’m curious to know if you are influenced by religious readings as well?
I feel God is everywhere and can be found in anything- it’s all a matter of perspective.
“Reprieved from Exile.” What sparked the visuals and what is the story behind it?
Up until relatively recently, I’d lived in several different locations. Imagine starting hundreds of books and just when it starts to get interesting, you’ve got to put the book down, and you never get to finish it, never to find out what happens to the characters. This way of life left me with a rather emotionally disjointed impression during most of my formative years, and of the people who’ve occupied a “role” in my life- those who’ve left, those who’ve made a brief appearance, and those who’ve always been there.
I continue to examine how these experiences have affected me, but those around me also have had their own personal version as well, and are trying to work through their own experience, past and present. I think a person’s progress, in some respects, can be measured in the quality of their relationships. and as difficult as relationships can be, I’ve come to understand that to keep oneself closed off from people is worse than the alternative.
I would love to know what inspired the piece “A Blessing and a Curse.” Do you personally feel this way about the life experience of many artists?
Thank you. I can only speak for me: if I’m kept from creating for too long, regardless of the reason, my demeanor changes for the worse, and can’t be reasoned with, even when I’m the one doing the reasoning. Conversely, while that unreasonable side is inconvenient, having to engage in The Real World (eating, sleeping, bathing, relationships) can be a real nuisance. I wouldn’t change who I am, but this piece is basically a temper tantrum on paper.
Do you have a favorite piece?
I don’t have a favorite piece. Depending on the day, I can find any number of reasons to be thrilled with what I’ve done, or wondering why I bother. This applies to every piece I’ve made. Ever.
I was especially intrigued by ‘morning has broken’ and the notes found throughout. Could you tell us who those notes are intended for and their purpose?
‘morning has broken’ deals with an issue I feel especially strong about. The displacement of persons is a real issue, all over (since the existence of people, I imagine), and something I’ve experienced on a very small scale. This was as a young adult, living in the U.S., in a relatively stable environment, and yet it left a lasting impression on me.
Sometimes it’s hard, I think, for humans to Step Back Far Enough and grasp the far-reaching impact of their actions, especially when whatever it is they’ve chosen to do is based in anger and/or fear. You may not see it right away, but it’ll percolate and grow, until all of a sudden, there’s generations of people trying to work through their own Present Day issues, in addition to The Conditions they’ve had handed down to them.
My hope is that after absorbing the piece: picking through the Buckminster Fuller quote, interpreting and applying the random phrases, understanding what The Edict represents, and what the implications of being Something That Exists in the Shadows vs. Something That Exists in the Light are, and whether or not the viewer can imagine themselves being placed in a position beyond their control- my hope is that compassion and understanding will be the order of the day because, despite everything, we are all the same person.
Visit Molly Cassidy’s website papernymph.com to see more of her incredible art.