Portrait of the Artist

Molly Springfield

A Trick of the Eye

By Noelani Kirschner | January 20, 2020
Two Virginias (May Tree), 2018, graphite on paper, 16.5 x 25.5 inches
Two Virginias (May Tree), 2018, graphite on paper, 16.5 x 25.5 inches

Molly Springfield re-creates Xeroxed scans of old manuscripts using nothing but graphite and paper, a practice she sees as a combination of trompe l’oeil painting—a tradition that she was trained in—and 1960s conceptual word art.

Springfield began her in-progress Holograph Draft series when she stumbled across a holograph of Virginia Woolf’s 1927 novel, To the Lighthouse, and a copy of the author’s family photograph album in a library. She copied pages from the manuscript, careful to choose those with Woolf’s notations, and in her studio, replicated them so as to “trick” the viewer into believing that her reproductions are the original scans. “There’s a one-to-one relationship with drawing and writing,” she says. “And I feel like a lot of what I do is drawing the things that I write.”

Among her influences are Mel Bochner and Lawrence Weiner, artists who emphasized the concept of a work over its material quality. “The ideas I was concerned about are reproduction, the technology of reproduction, and the medium of drawing,” she says. Springfield’s art, then, asks viewers to consider the text of a piece while also challenging them to examine it as a work of art.

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