Neighbor: Casey takes

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 15, 2000

spiritual artistic journey


Features Editor

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Sept. 14, 2000 10 PM

The Malone Gallery of Art opened its 2000-2001 art series this month with the art work of Mary Ann Casey.

Casey’s show, "Paintings and Sculptures" uses a variety of materials and techniques – canvas, masonite, acrylics, collages, textured backgrounds and mixed media assemblages – to portray spiritual subjects.

"My spiritual series is one that I’ve been compelled to do," Casey said. "The compulsion to create these images comes with a desire to offer encouragement and hope that God does exist. The show is beyond me. It is not me in the flesh. It is God through me."

Casey said her art comes to her though the quiet times that, as a lady of the 1970s and

’80s, she has learned to embrace.

"I am a product of those busy times, when I was mixing family and career, and through all of the busyness I thought I knew God," she said. "But now I have learned to quiet myself and listen to God and I am starting to see more and feel more."

Casey said when she allows herself to become totally quiet she becomes a vessel, that transcends intellect or reasoning.

"I have to pull myself aside and embrace nature and try to internalize it," she said. "It is beyond reason. It is beyond me. It is from a quiet, still place deep in my soul."

The spiritual experience of these quiet times, is reflected in Casey’s work.

"From these quiet times, I sketch things very quickly and work from them later," she said. "Sometimes people remark that my work reflects the same things but I often feel the same things but I express them in a different way. There is a spirit to my work. Art does speak."

Casey’s work does speak.

It sometimes speaks with an ethnic quality that she can’t explain.

"My work is often ethnic but I have no preconceived idea of what it will be," she said. "I don’t try. It’s just what I do. Some of my work has a Haitian, Spanish or African quality about it and, even though I don’t know these people, it just comes through me."

Casey was asked to do a show in Fort Worth commemorating Black History month but, initially, she didn’t feel worthy.

"I had to pray about it and embrace it," she said. "When we embrace what we can do, it becomes worthy. I am a vessel and this is the whole package. It’s what’s inside that matters. It’s what is in your soul."

When Casey works, she first finds that quiet place, physically and spiritually, and embraces all of the wonder and feelings that God allows to flow through her. The result is the art of the soul – her soul.

The self-taught artist said she is now able to quiet herself and fulfill a long-time desire to allow the artist in her to emerge.

"This has been possible because of the support and understanding of my family," she said. "Family is very important to me. I believe family is the journey. One line of Scott Peck’s poem, "The Road Less Traveled," says that life is difficult and, when we realize that, it’s easier. There’s no utopia in life but my family, friends and my art have made mine as close to one as I could hope."