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Featured Artist - Molly Gaston Johnson
07/03/2012 - By A.J. Perna
Molly Gaston Johnson, Ohio native and mother of two, works in the business of art. However, the printmaker is quick to point out that she is first and foremost an artist. In her Social Animal Press Studio, on the lower level of Ocean Grove’s Jersey Shore Arts Center, Molly approaches her art in an organic fashion.
With degrees in both printmaking and art history, she settled at the Jersey shore in 2002, by way of Washington, D.C. Molly is also an art advocate who has functioned as a specialist in intergovernmental partnerships and international programs at the National Endowment for the Arts.
While filling orders, working on collaborative artistic efforts, teaching art classes and creating unique, one-of-a-kind original pieces, Molly stays true to hands-on techniques, eschewing any notion of mass production or automation in favor of one of her favorite experiences - the laying down of ink. The crux of Molly’s work stems from applying designs and layers of color to textiles through various printmaking methods from woodcut to silkscreen. Her original print designs have adorned an array of custom-finished products, such as clothing, tablecloths, towels, pillowcases, cards and signs. She has also collaborated with a local choreographer to produce props, backdrops and dance costumes.
Molly also practices something she calls "up-cycling," the process of taking a favorite article of clothing that has been permanently stained and replacing the stain with a beautiful print design. Her upgrade-meets-recycling concept reaches its pinnacle when people donate their unwanted natural fiber clothing items to Molly, who breathes new life into them with her prints. She then passes them along to local charities.
Not all of Molly’s art is limited to wearables or fabrics. She is especially fond of her quirky and whimsical printed woodblock robot toys, and has created a bit of a buzz with her custom tabletops. Molly’s belief that technology can isolate people from more intimate and meaningful interactions has inspired hand-carvings and prints on tabletops to symbolize the importance of human interconnectedness. Her designs reflect a time when people gathered face-to-face around tables to discuss important issues. Her tabletops can be found in Jersey shore cafés and restaurants, and although some have been converted to wall hangings, Molly hopes they will spark conversation and encourage free association of thought.
To contact her, visit her website at www.gomollymae.com. As a fan of direct contact, Molly prefers to speak with people, and encourages calls at 908-675-1746.
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