By: Molly Helfend
How did your transcending artwork begin?
Hmmm...it's taken many forms through my life time, but I grew up pretty poor and in a pretty unstable environment and I think transcendence through art was discovered at an early age as an ability to free myself from the confines of the circumstances I found myself in. I discovered I could make my imaginary dream worlds a reality through the creation of art.
Describe your vision. What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity is my vital life force. It is, because I am, and vice versa. I very much believe I am the creator of my perception of reality and create it to be as dull or as magnificent as I so choose. I tend to create the latter! I'm drawn to the mysterious...inspired by ancient knowledge, surrealism, philosophy, metaphysics, science...creativity is the unexplainable and undefinable wanting to express itself. It's expressing the ineffable and clarifying the relationship between the deepest spiritual yearnings and creation. Through creativity, we gain an understanding of the nature of reality and our place in the universe.
Your body of work is diverse. Where does your imaginative spark come from?
I guess we can call it intuition? What is intuition? The self guiding and innate wisdom that lives within us all...some call it the inner child. I rely heavily on my intuition (inner child), who really just wants to learn, love and play, and what child likes to play with just one toy? I play, I seek, I experiment. I’m infinitely curious and the forms in which we can express are limitless! I act on my creative impulse as much as I can. I feel I am a conduit for a message wanting to realize itself and I try not to stand in the way of that.
Please tell us about some of your past projects that you are inspired by
Curating the Élan Vital exhibit with Tasya van Ree this past year was amazing. Exploring the concept of the vital life force and its expression thereof. We built out a chapel like structure within a warehouse and created an immersive experience. It was so incredible to bring together fellow artists and musicians who we support and admire in our community to create such a special experience.
What and who inspires you?
I'm inspired by wisdom, philosophy, fine art, zen practices, architecture, music, design, and mostly nature…our greatest learning institution. And I'm inspired by those artists, poets and philosophers who were most sensitive to nature and it's teachings. Thoreau, O'Keefe, Brancusi, Pythagoras, Muir, Black Elk, Goldsworthy, Richard Long, Edward Weston, James Turrell, Edward Abbey, Joseph Campbell, etc.
How does nature and color play roles in your unique visions?
I'm exploring the micro/macro dimensions in nature. Trying to learn the language in its design. Everything man has designed was first designed by nature. The Fibonacci code and the golden ratio are the foundation of our perception of aesthetics. Energy (light and color) and it's effects on our thought and emotion. To experience the great mystery, to seek absolute truth and the connection to the intangible that transcend us from ordinary to otherworldly in the simplest of moments. My vision is narratives of this exploration and experience...my art is the expression of them thereof.
What is your energetic connection to the desert ecosystem in your work?
"The wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity to the human spirit.” The desert is one of the last few places that remain wild. Edgar Payne wrote, "she is free in her wildness.” I am complete and most in touch with my soul when I feel absolutely free. I was raised in the desert and have a strong connection to it. It has been such a profound teacher. She stings me with her sun, but soothes me in her shadows. The desert is fierce, but supremely beautiful. She demands respect, and when earned, offers you all the wealth of the world in spirit and infinite inspiration. It's the perfect backdrop to my surreal expressions. It’s a vast canvas of quiet power.
Does urban Los Angeles play a part in your artistic and abstract directions as well?
Yes, I moved here from a small town in Arizona the month I turned 18...with $40 and no idea. It's been a place of endless challenge and opportunity. I love Los Angeles for the fact that it's one of the most open minded and artistically collaborative cities I've known. I love to collaborate, it encourages me to look at things in new perspectives, to see things in new ways. It gives me the courage to continually push myself artistically and to never remain idyll and to be ever learning and evolving. It's also rich culturally and is home to so many spiritual, philosophical and religious institutions, which have enabled me the explore my spirituality through poly theosophy. I love to attend mediations and lectures at the Self Realization Fellowship, the Buddhist Temple, UCLA, and the University of Philosophical Research.
You have dabbled in many forms of art. What is something you have not tried, but you are interested in?
I would love to create highly conceptual architectural sacred spaces for meditation and reflection. I also hope to someday have the opportunity to create some monumental, environmental art.
A dream of mine is to find a geothermal hot spring and collaborate with James Turrell and Tadao Ando to design a chapel like structure to put over it, and then collaborate with Lee U Fan to design a mono-ha inspired contemporary Japanese zen garden surrounding it. Made to offer a serene experience to connect with ourselves and to our individual ideas of spirit through mediation and zen contemplation.
Magic is everywhere, in everything, all the time. It's the sparkle in our eye, a blade of grass, a breaking dawn, a math equation, a breath, the sound of rain, the humming of electricity, a emotion, a song floating in the air, a smile, a soft touch, eye contact with a stranger, a poem, a light breeze, a nostalgic scent, stillness, a vivid dream, a distant storm. Magic exists wherever you look for it.
Any new projects in the pipeline?
I just signed with a new gallery, Modern West Fine Art, and I have a show with them May 19th in Utah. I will be exhibiting my large scale graphic drawings of "Desert Elements" Series. I appreciate that they are encouraging me to create larger and larger scale pieces. It's a new challenge and the end results are stunning.
I'm also excited to be collaborating with London based artist, Tom Jean Webb, on an integrative exhibit, "These Mystic Plains", at the Platform in the Janessa Leone and Freda Salvador shop in Culver City on June 1st.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I heard James Turrell has 83 sky space structures in the world...I wouldn't mind doing a world tour to live in each of those spaces for a bit.
Molly Helfend is part of the HOC team and is an herbalist and environmental activist. She graduated from University of Vermont in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Holistic Health. She will be attending University of Kent in Canterbury, England to receive her Masters Degree in Ethnobotany in 2017. She has worked for Urban Moonshine, Greenpeace and received her training with Spoonful Herbals. Her goal is to receive her PHD and become a professor at University of California Santa Cruz. Molly resides in Monte Nido, California.