Broad StrokesPublished 5:30pm Friday, October 11, 2013
Local artist featured in one-woman show
Mary Ann Casey has always been an artist.
Even as a little girl, she liked to draw and her young friends appreciated her talent. Many times she was asked, “Draw me! Draw me!”
But she was an artist only on the inside.
All of her talent was held deep within her because young women in the sleepy, little Wiregrass town of Rehobeth were brought up to choose professions where they could make a living.
“Back then, you could be a nurse, a secretary or a teacher,” Casey said. “I was told over and over that I could not make a living as an artist. I guess I believed that because I became a teacher, an English teacher.”
As a teacher of writing and literature, Casey appreciated and loved the written word and found ways to express herself on paper. But something was missing. She wanted to express herself with broad strokes. She wanted to paint.
Casey was married with children before she ventured into painting in a big and bold way. That was years ago and today she’s still painting with broad strokes.
“Painting is what I do,” Casey said. “Art is what I am and who I am. Art is my life. And, it’s a good life because art allows me to express my feelings. It allows me to be a part of something much greater than I am. Art is spiritual. It takes me to another place.”
Casey’s home in Troy could be an art gallery but only if the curator would allow visitors to rummage and plunder.
“I’ve got so many paintings and they are stacked one in front of the other,” Casey said, laughing. “They’re hanging on the walls. They’re behind things and over things and under things. They’re in closets and places that I’ve forgotten.”
And Casey’s paintings are also front and center in her home. Some of the paintings are from times past – a past that is still such a part of her that Casey feels a need for them to be around. Other paintings are recent works that also “need” to be around. And, then there are paintings in progress.
Casey was busy this week selecting the pieces that will be featured in her one-woman show, “Welcome” at the Ann Rudd Art Center in Ozark. The opening reception for “Welcome” will be from 6 until 8 p.m. today at the art center on the square in downtown Ozark. The exhibition will hang until Nov. 12.
The invitation says “Welcome” in three languages but it could say it in hundreds of languages.
“Art is a language that we all understand,” Casey said. “Art says ‘welcome,’ come and let me share my thoughts with you.”
“Welcome” is Casey willingness to open herself — her inner self –to an audience of people with varied interests and from varied backgrounds.
“A painting is very personal,” Casey said. “Sometimes, I paint and don’t really know what it means. Something seemingly guides my hand. I leave the interpretation to the viewer. Everyone sees something different in a painting, based on one’s background, life experiences and even their mood at the time.”
Casey said it’s possible to look at a painting one time and find meaning in it and then look at it again and find a completely different meaning.
“Welcome” showcases the different mediums in which Casey works and the different styles. A recycled, abstract piece might be exhibited next to a piece so realistic that the subjects seem to speak beyond the canvas. And the subjects span time and place, from cotton field workers in the rural South to soldiers who fought in the rice paddies in Vietnam.
“The Vietnam piece speaks to me,” Casey said. “It says, ‘Remember. Remember us. Remember those who didn’t come home. Remember those who came home but not whole.’
“This painting was redone. At first, it was a busy work, with scenes from a war in a dark, distant land. But it didn’t tell the story. The story is all about the soldiers who we must always remember.”
Casey took a broad brush and blacked everything except the soldiers. They tell the story. They make the plea, “Remember.”
For Casey, art is about remembrance. Remembrance of people, of places. Remembrance of sadness and sorrow. Remembrance of joy and hope. Remembrance is also love, and lost love, of peace and war.
Remembrance is all things, she said.
Remembrance is the bridge back to yesterday and the way to tomorrow.
Remembrance is art, painted with broad strokes.
“Through art, I can be true to what I feel,” she said. “Art is what gives me the energy to move beyond me and to be true to what I do. Being an artist is what I do.”