Photography by Kara Thorpe
For Kerry Molina, creativity is crucial to a well-rounded life
Do you think you can draw? Do you think you are creative? When we’re children, we draw and create without inhibition. But as we approach adulthood, we become fearful, less confident. We don’t believe in ourselves any more. We don’t believe we can be creative.
This is what Kerry Molina, a mixed media artist and art teacher in Gainesville, battles against. Molina holds classes in her home studio, Yellow Brick Road Studio and Enrichment Workshops, which are art classes that are more than art. She believes that not only is art for everybody, but creativity benefits you in ways that branch out and affect other parts of your life. Her client, Roxane Holmes, says,“Kerry endeavors to get us to realize that we are all creative…and all artists.” Molina herself says, “What I think is that we are all creative. We just need opportunities to express it. We forget it’s there, stuff it down, tell ourselves it’s not important. But I would say that it’s imperative to let it out. To find joy in exploring this part of ourselves.”
Molina welcomed me into her studio, which Holmes describes as “funky and creative.” It’s a cozy, warm, and welcoming space that’s still plenty large enough to accommodate everyone and everything that’s needed. It’s colorful and bright, with mobiles hanging from the ceiling. Stocked chock-full of well-organized really fun-looking art supplies, it makes you feel like you can sit down and play with all her materials without being self conscious, just like a kid.
“The thing I love about art is that it’s for everybody. If I had a dollar for every time somebody said oh I can’t even draw a stick figure… people think they’re the only ones who can’t be creative. I say, yes you can. It is already inside of you.”
And her clients agree. Megan Pomfret says, “Kerry helped me to see that being an artist is not a narrow definition — creativity and art can be accessible to all. It doesn’t matter how ‘good’ my art is, what matters is that I create. She is easy to trust and creates an environment where a non-artist can be vulnerable enough to be creative.” Another client, Patty Lapihuska, says, “Her instructions are clear and concise, but also leave room for creativity to flow from each person. Not cookie cutter, paint-how-I-am-showing-you art, but freedom to express one’s own vision.”
Molina thinks it’s important to work with children too, encouraging their creativity and helping them understand how important it is that they maintain that mindset as they grow up. “I want to teach them that [creativity] is something they need to cultivate their whole lives, because I don’t want them to grow up to think they can’t do art.”
Mixed media denotes that a piece uses more than one type of art material. It could be a combination of paint, paper, stencils, collage, ink, rubber stamping, texture pastes, and more. “There are a lot of interesting supplies on the market now,” says Molina. “You can get really cool stuff even at Michaels. Anything can be a mark making tool… anything can make shapes. For instance bottle caps can make circles. Gelli printing is so much fun. Gelli plates are rubbery plates that feel like Jello. You simply brayer paint on (apply with a roller), then you put paper down, rub it, lift it up and you have these cool prints. The painted/textured paper can be used with other media in a project. It’s another no-fail technique that I love to teach.”
Molina explains her love of mixed media by saying “It’s layers, it’s a love of layers. Technically mixed media would be two kinds of media together, the minimum. But if you can make two layers, then why can’t you make two hundred layers? It’s a constant challenge because you’re deciding what to keep, what to cover up, and what stays where. And it’s fun for me to decide what I like as it evolves.”
Creative Writing Classes and Art Journaling
In addition to mixed media, Molina also teaches a variety of writing classes including creative writing, essay writing, and poetry. She also teaches art journaling, which is creative text coupled with, and complemented by, art. When you think of creative writing, you think, well, writing, like with a pen and paper or maybe a computer. Not here. Molina calls it “art journaling” and it’s a combination of art and text in a notebook. Classes are offered for all ages, from children to adult. “It’s a combination of dear diary and some artistic elements so that every page is kind of your own piece of art. It doesn’t have to be shared, it’s just for yourself. It’s not just writing and its not just art, it’s words and art together. I plan a page around a theme, and students get prompts from me. For example, around back to school time I’ll ask adults to think back to their own school days, and they work off that concept. For kids, sometimes I’ll do a painted heart map, where I prompt them to express the things that are important to them, such as favorite foods, parents, friends, favorite things to do. I’ve got a million ideas for art journaling, I have way less time than ideas.”
Molina says, “I really like working with adults. I enjoy encouraging them to be creative, and I like the community of it. I like it when women are sitting around this table during art journaling. They discuss things, they bond and become friends. I love that part of it.” Holmes says, “We get so involved we lose track of time. We’ve also made good new friends with the others who take the classes.”
Last summer Molina held a full-day week-long day camp for adult women. “We did art, writing, poetry, and had guest speakers one of whom was a poet. We did hikes, we went to a restaurant, it was so fabulous. I’m definitely going to do it again this year.” Holmes remembers: “What fun! I was exhausted also from all the concentration and creative work!” This camp will be annual and is already filling up for this summer.
Of course, summer day camps for kids abound at Yellow Brick Road. The variety is mind boggling. A visit to her website will challenge you to make a choice for your child.
The name of her studio, Yellow Brick Road, encompasses her mission. Molina says on her website, “The yellow brick road in the story of The Wizard of Oz, to me, symbolizes a path to personal discovery. The story characters all believed that they lacked the traits they needed to be their best selves. But it was not true. All along, they had the wisdom, compassion and courage that they thought they lacked. It was through their journey that they made this realization about their personal potential. All of us have very special gifts inside of us. We just need to be reminded and encouraged to let them out.”
Kaci Keeps Going
Molina’s first book has just been published and is available on Amazon and on her website, KerryMolina.com. She says, “It’s about something that happened to me, back when I was dancing. It’s about perseverance. The whole story takes place in about two minutes. It’s about a dancer who performs a solo. When she gets on stage she has a moment of fear and freezes. But then she refers back to all these memories about how hard she worked, and how her teacher told her she’d be fine. So she gets ahold of herself and finishes strong.” Throughout the story Molina follows Kaci’s five senses, what she’s seeing, feeling, smelling, tasting and hearing. At first it’s in a negative sense, while she’s unsure of herself, then once she goes through the turning point and moves on with her performance, all the senses are touched on again in a positive sense. “It’s a fun lesson to teach,” Molina says. “It’s a growth mindset; the effort that you put in is really what it’s all about.” The captivating and adorable illustrations in the book are by Katie Keleman, and all the mixed media backgrounds that complement the drawings are Molina’s.
Kerry is a talented artist who has the ability to use commercial, mixed media products in a way that is entirely unique and her own. This is true both in her artwork and in her role as an instructor with children and adults. ~Seth Apter, nationally-known artist, instructor and author at sethapter.com