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Watching the work unfold

Perkins Center displays pieces from artist Molly Sanger Carpenter

Special to The Sun: “It’s an amazing time, I think, to be living as an artist … to bring a new audience in to see the work,” artist Molly Sanger Carpenter said of her work, on exhibit at Perkins Center until later in August.

Artist Molly Sanger Carpenter is exhibiting her work at Perkins Center for the Arts in Moorestown through Monday, Aug. 21, and will take part in an artist’s reception on Saturday, July 15.

“I just really enjoy seeing the reactions of people when they see my work, and talking to them about those reactions and what they see in the work,” Carpenter said. “It’s not all about why I make the work or what I see in the work, but also the story unfolds with their viewpoint.”

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According to her website, Carpenter’s latest work combines many materials in a process, blending mediums to create a fine art curio reminiscent of icons and retablos, with a nod to (Italian sculptor) Della Robbia. Carpenter’s pieces have been featured in several solo and small-group exhibitions, and she creates them in the studio in her 300-year-old family farm, where she lives with her husband and two border collies.

“It’s an ongoing process of everything that I do and see,” Carpenter noted of what inspires her. “I sort of absorb, whether it be in a small act as walking in the woods or meditation, or just working with the piece and watching the ideas develop and unfold as I’m working on them.”

Her artist’s statement reads, “I often feel like Alice as she descended down the rabbit hole. My world becomes ‘curiouser and curiouser’ as I try new materials and new combinations in an artist’s alchemic version of creating gold.”

“As a child I hunted for treasure in the woods and beyond; today I seek treasure from within to make manifest in the objects I create,” the statement continued. “My art is of artifact, myth and fairytale dreams made tangible, treasure revealed.”

Those words exemplify Carpenter’s life.

“I’ve always been super interested in fairy tales and storytelling in general, and I think that my artwork is sort of a visual form of storytelling,” she explained.

Special to The Sun: Artist Molly Sanger Carpenter’s Perkins Center exhibition, Flights of Fancy, features this image of a rainbow trout.

Carpenter was born and raised in Wilmington, where she spent her childhood immersed in art viewing and making. She was enthralled by forests and fields, beaches and lakes, churches and museums, and in her formative years, studied with talented and established local artists. 

Those experiences helped Carpenter form a foundation of material knowledge that enabled her to venture out on her own as an artist, and create what she describes as “unconventional retablos.”

“A retablo is a spiritual offering that was historically given in churches to God, but I take it a step further and I treat the natural world as a spiritual gift,” Carpenter pointed out. “My works are sort of a praise for the natural world.”

Carpenter’s exhibit at Perkins – Flights of Fancy – features 22 pieces, some new and some old. She is anxious to see how her work will resonate with the community.

“My favorite reaction that I get from people are the reactions where they feel a deep connection to it,” she acknowledged. “The deep connection is very personal to them, and I like hearing their reasons and their stories about why they feel those connections.”

For more information on Carpenter’s exhibition at Perkins, visit https://perkinsarts.org/event/flights-of-fancy-by-molly-sanger-carpenter-july-5th-aug-21st-2023/

For more information on Carpenter, visit https://www.mollycarpenter.com.

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