Molly Briggs

See Through

Recent Paintings

Clearing Paintings

Fabula: North Avenue Paintings

Works on Paper

Statement & Resume



Clouds I,  40"  x  48"

Mary Poppins Trees II,  36"  x  48"


Mary Poppins Trees I,  35 3/4"  x  48"

Central Park Trees I 36"  x  48"


Central Park Trees II 36"  x  48"

Kites 36"  x  48"

Artist Statement:
I am interested in the question of how things are made, believing that attention to this question illuminates the nature of things.  Made things include art, living things, meaning and identity.  I have considered the histories of thought surrounding evolution, feminism and modernism, three ways of thinking about making that developed concurrently.  The paintings contain various references to these subjects via Japanese prints, scientific diagrams, domestic décor, and most recently, the scenic background paintings from the 1964 Walt Disney musical Mary Poppins.

The paintings refer to the silver screen of film – that realm in which we are convinced by the illusion of colored light even as we see through it to the blank screen behind.  The work is about seeing-through, and at the same time being persuaded by an illusion.  It’s painted in thin, flat media -- flashe, acrylic gouache, and tempera – in optically reverberating colors on thin sheets of plywood, with the grain running vertically to suggest atmosphere.  These are un-illusionistic materials, but the wood floats, smooth and flat, about an inch from the wall, and the optical effects of color and texture transform the images, rendering them supernatural in light and atmosphere, yet convincing in their illusion of space: pictorial space, historical space and the space between distinct yet entwined areas of human inquiry.

The initial idea was to paint from slides that I shot from the dvd of the movie.  Mary Poppins Trees I and II and Kites developed in this way.  Then I visited urban parks and shot images that reminded me of movie stills.  Central Park Trees I and II and Backdrop are worked from slides I took in New York’s Central Park this past summer while experiencing a work by artist Janet Cardiff, a filmic work titled Her Long Black Hair, which consists of an audio-guided walk through the park.  Central Park Trees I and II come from pictures of a stand of dense American Elms that correspond, in reality and in my paintings, to an archetypal and literary idea of a forest.  The largest work, Backdrop, comes from an image of a space where a fountain is surrounded by a radiating pattern of bricks.  These images could have been shot in the park regardless of Cardiff’s piece, but the premise of her work -- which described reality as a layered thing like a fractal, and involved following a dark-haired woman through the park – is too connected to my enterprise of “following” Mary Poppins to be left out of my analysis.

Mary Poppins was the first movie I ever saw, and it was on a silver screen.  Mary Poppins seemed just like my mother, who sat beside me – they both wore their hair in dark buns and were magical, in an everyday sort of way.  Now I see through the illusion of a magic mother, and through the illusion of the feminist argument.  I am a feminist, but it is problematic. Through reference to backdrops like those in Mary Poppins, I can allude to my experience of the confluence of art and daily life.

Gallery Information
Books & Catalogs
Art in America


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