Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography
Life is made up of a series of moments, insignificant and important.
How often do we let those moments pass us by without a second thought? Grand Forks native Mollie Douthit captures the everyday in her paintings, creating a series of visual vignettes. We met with Douthit at the grand opening of her first solo exhibition at ecce gallery, which runs through October 21, to learn more about the stories behind her work.
Before Douthit developed her signature aesthetic, she earned her BFA from UND and her Post Baccalaureate Certificate from School of the Museum Fine Arts in Boston. Then in 2012, she relocated once more to Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan, Ireland, after which she completed a series of artist residencies.
A Freeing Moment
In 2015, while at the Tony O’Malley Artist Residency in Callan, Ireland, Douthit abandoned a negative body of work. “I ended up destroying most everything, and it was a really freeing moment,” she said. This metamorphosis lead Douthit to experiment with new subject matter. Following personal and artistic growth abroad, Douthit returned to Grand Forks last year to prepare for an exhibition at the North Dakota Museum of Art.
Traveling with Her Work
By 2017, Douthit had begun documenting the everyday in her paintings, which slowly started to shrink until her canvases were seven-by-five-inches and five-by-five-inches. This gradual change occurred naturally because working on a smaller scale enabled Douthit to travel more effortlessly with her work.
Becoming Acquainted with Douthit
The director of ecce gallery, Mark Weiler, got to know Douthit’s work through the North Dakota Museum of Art. He and Douthit have been coordinating her first solo exhibition at ecce for the past six months.
Color Blocking & Painting Workshop at Unglued: Summer Camp
The weekend before the show’s opening, Douthit lead a color blocking and painting workshop at Unglued: Summer Camp, where she was also a part of the kitchen crew along with Molly Yeh and the rest of her friends from up North. This is where we initially became acquainted with Douthit as she shared her commitment to color with her fellow Unglued: Summer Campers.
How Douthit Makes Her Palettes
During the workshop, Douthit showed us how she carefully forms her palettes, starting with white paint and mixing in primary colors, which she then uses to make secondary colors. Douthit did so with a palette knife, meticulously wiping it clean after each new hue was made. “I can’t get over that, when two colors talk to each other on a canvas,” she later imparted to us at her exhibition.
Ecce Gallery Exhibition
Douthit’s solo exhibition at ecce gallery runs through September 6 to October 21. The intimate space lends itself particularly well to displaying her intuitive works, which allow the viewer to see life through the Mollie Douthit filter. Many of these works are the result of her recent productivity, specifically during the summer of 2018. “There’s a story behind each of Mollie’s paintings. Maybe you don’t know hers, but you can create your own,” said Weiler, who curated the show.
That didn’t stop us from asking about her stories though. Regarding “GF, 2018,” Douthit said, “My mom would kill me, but I left the fridge open so I could paint the birthday cake that she baked for me.” Another piece depicts a two fortune cookies encapsulated in one clear, plastic package, which she and her sister got on Valentine’s Day one year. “Isn’t that serendipitous–that you would get two fortune cookies in one pack on Valentine’s Day?” the artist laughed.
Moments like these inspire Douthit to paint. In yet another painting, she portrays a stick of butter that had been left sitting out on the water dispenser of a refrigerator. Some of the stories behind her works are extremely funny, while others conceal more personal meaning.
So far, reactions to Douthit’s exhibition have been positive. “Mollie is able to take ordinary, everyday objects and elevate them into something much bigger, without making them anything besides themselves,” said Tessa Beck, assistant at ecce gallery.
There’s a story behind each of Mollie’s paintings. Maybe you don’t know hers, but you can create your own. – Mark Weiler, ecce gallery
In October 2018, Douthit will be going back to Ireland to teach a Master Class. Then in November 2018, she will be starting a new residency in Vermont. Wherever she travels to next, it will be interesting to see how her aesthetic evolves with new experiences.
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