I am a collector of things botanical. Not of houseplants but of the parts of nature that the earth leaves behind as evidence of the changes it continually moves through. There exists a parallel of our lives with the ephemeral essence of the earth within this organic detritus. Seasons change and storms leave me material to work with. Trees shed their bark and insects move on to new dwellings. I bring it all back and live with it in my studio. Some of these materials remain as they are and some continue to change, to oxidize, and disintegrate. This does not bother me. The organic nature of the material is what defines my efforts and I can appreciate the alterations that I am able to sometimes capture in my own work.
Molly Sawyer is an abstract artist born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of 10 years, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor which has affected her life’s work from the earliest stages. She holds a degree in ceramics from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC and attended The New York Studio School and The Art Students League of New York where she focused on figure sculpture. She learned mold making and casting techniques during this time while simultaneously studying the horse in her own studio in Manhattan. This interest was sparked by the horse drawn carriages that passed her apartment throughout the day on their way to Central Park.
Sawyer’s work took an abstract turn after a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2009. After numerous years of treatment, she relocated to Asheville, NC where she began experimenting with natural materials such as rust, Spanish moss, lichen, and raw animal fleece. She would allow these organics to literally decompose in order to explore the concepts of entropy and the life cycle. As her life experiences shift, so do Sawyer’s choice of materials. She now includes in her sculptural work processed fiber as it redirects her narrative from end of lifecycle to longevity and strength.
2019 moved Sawyer into an unknown area both physically and materially as she was driven to navigate the next change in her medium, shifting into works on paper to coincide with additional medical challenges. An exploration of patina, visual texture and color through watercolor has been the result. Her abstract forms began with inspiration from stone and lichen along the west coast of Ireland. Ovalesk forms are filled with layers of color and activity. The wholeness of these forms is sacrificed as Sawyer divides the forms and rejoins them by threadwork and embroidery, creating reassembled, collagelike constructions.
Through a broad net of inspirational figures, Sawyer works to maintain balance in her studio practice. While she finds affinity with visual artists such as Eva Hesse, Louis Bourgeois, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Henry Moore, Ismau Noguchi, Constantin Brancusi, William Tucker, and Sheila Hicks, Anni and Josef Albers she finds momentum in learning about the lives and works of artists of disciplines other than her own. Her influences include those whom she considers experts in their field of creative expression: musicians, actors, chefs. But Sawyer extends her list to the doctors and surgeons who have been instrumental throughout her life. With these heroes in mind, Sawyer’s work is guided by the search for balance while her medical experiences inform the work ongoing.
Sawyer shows her work regularly in both Solo and Group exhibits. Among these are Asheville Art Museum, CAM Raleigh, Western North Carolina University, Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art, North Greenville University, as well as in New York, New Jersey, Georgia, and Virginia. The National Sculpture Society in New York City awarded her the Beverly Hoyt Robertson Award. She has appeared in numerous speaking engagements as Visiting Artist and has attended art residencies in Connecticut, Wyoming, and Ireland.
Molly Sawyer’s work can be found in collections both private and corporate throughout the United States. She is included in Mandarin Hotel New York, Ritz Carlton Boston, AC Hotel MidTown Atlanta, and Mohegan Sun Casino. Sawyer’s maintains a studio in Asheville, NC where her practice encompasses both sculpture and works on paper. She is represented by Mars Landing Gallery in Mars Hill, NC and her work can be found at Marquee in Asheville, NC and The Centerpiece Gallery in Raleigh, NC.