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Meet the Artist: Molly Dilworth

Brooklyn Arts Council

Jun 2007

Original Post

Posted on:
January 2, 2013
Posted in:
Featured Artists


Visual Artist / Cool Water, Hot Island, 36º 30’, Paintings for Satellites / Painter and Public Artist

Artist Statement

Molly Dilworth is a Brooklyn based artist who views creative practice as a form of research. Using data from a specific site as a structure, she gives form to things that invisibly motivate our actions. 

Her painting Cool Water, Hot Island was selected for the 5 block 50,000 sq. ft. pedestrian plazas on Broadway in Times Square. Her 2010 rooftop painting was made in conjunction with the NYC CoolRoofs program was commissioned by as part of their international climate change art initiative. This project was included in Spontaneous Interventions: design actions for the common good at the U.S. Pavilion, 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale.

As a 2011 Art & Law Resident, Dilworth researched the African American Burial sites in Lower Manhattan and the prevalence of forced labor in contemporary life. She combined visual references from this research into icons painted on banners at the Lower East Side-Rotating Studio Program. This work, first exhibited at the Sculpture Center is currently traveling to venues across the country. 

She has recently made public artworks for the Salina Art Center in Kansas and the World Financial Center in New York City.

Where are you from? How long have you lived in Brooklyn?

I grew up in Michigan and lived in the Southwest and Northwest before moving to New York in 2001. I’ve lived in Brooklyn for 10 years.  

How long have you been a practicing artist?

I’ve been practicing my whole life! But I got much more serious about making work in the last decade. 

Who or what influenced your decision to become an artist?

When I went to college in New Mexico as a teenager I met a lot of artists who were the most disciplined but also playful people I’d ever known. There was a visiting professor – from Brooklyn – who had us draw water for hours a la Vija Celmins and would lock the door after class began to discourage tardiness. 

What do/did your parents do for a living and were they supportive of you becoming an artist?

I have a huge family, none of whom are involved in the arts and they’ve been learning along with me what it means to be an artist. My parents gave me the freedom to decide what I would do with my life, and expected me to take responsibility for that choice. 

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I went to the University of New Mexico, Center for Creative Studies and Wayne State in Detroit and the University of Washington as an undergrad, and to NYU for graduate school.

What inspires you artistically?

I’m currently making work about modern and historical global trade routes so I’m really tuned into handmade and manufactured textiles. I’m generally interested in things that invisibly effect our daily lives – technology, the natural world, cultural codes – painting is a great tool for making these forces visible.

Which other artists inspire you?

It’s always changing – the titles for Agathe Snow’s sculptures in the Three for Society show at 303 Gallery opened a whole world of poetic possibilities for me. I never really had a feeling for Agnes Martin until suddenly one day I did. The same thing happened with Mary Heilmann. Working on collaborative projects with MK Guth completely reshaped my work. In the last year I met two artists - Stephen Siegel and Joey Weiss – who changed the way I think about what work can be.  

What’s your favorite place in Brooklyn to visit for inspiration?

Last fall I had a Recess residency at The Intercourse in Red Hook. I’d ride my bike from Greenpoint to Red Hook every day and that commute along the water and the new Brooklyn Bridge Park was by far the best commute I’ve had in New York. The park is so beautifully designed, and the Oscar Tuazon sculptures there are my favorite public art from 2012 – they’re hidden in plain sight!

Do you make a living from your art? If not, do you have a “day job” and what is it?

I’m lucky enough to spend most of my time working for myself. Recently I started freelancing for a large corporation which has given me great insight into contemporary global trade that compliments my more theoretical and historical research.  In the last year I began working with Seek-Art to make limited edition objects that help disseminate the information in and raise funds for my projects.

How did you get started presenting your work publically? 

For many years I worked with artist friends on collaborative projects (Red Shoe Delivery Service with MK Guth and Cris Moss), hung out with other artists and hatched plans, curated shows and said yes to almost everything. The work I’m doing now started from a simple idea – making a physical work for the digital world – and manifest in an anonymous space with extremely humble materials.

I think if you have something you really want to do you will find a way to make it happen.


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