Rekindling nostalgic memories of one’s childhood is just one of the elements that the art of Cassie Arnold brings to life. Her use of things past allows a story to be told that many can identify with. But even more can understand the balancing act that comes with raising a child while still making time to achieve all that she sets out to do. This combination of influences from her current day-to-day of raising 18-month-old daughter Finley (“Fin”) with poet-husband Jake Arnold in an arts-oriented community manifests itself in her daily creations.
Denton certainly has no shortage of creative types, and it is this culture of creativity and support from the community that has kept Cassie and her family living in the area. She and Jake went to college here and tied the knot shortly after graduation. They did move away for a brief period, but North Texas came a-callin’ once more. “We bought a house here in 2012, and there’s not a week that goes by where one of us doesn’t look at the other and say, ‘Man, I love living here,’” Cassie says.
Aside from the art realm, Cassie’s latest creative collaboration happens to be with her husband in the world of literature. Last year, the two started FIN Press Publications, a young adult publishing company. Just add it to the list accomplishments of this effervescent artiste.
You’ve dabbled in wide range of art forms. What do you consider your favorite medium? Mixed media sculpture is beyond my favorite medium! I love how unrestrictive it is, and considering its broad nature, I never get bored while creating. There’s so much beautiful history in the smallest, rusty metal object or worn piece of wood, and the joke is that if I wasn’t an artist, I might be classified as a hoarder. I still have things that I collected since I was a teenager, and there’s something exciting about retelling its story in an art piece over a decade later. I also dabble in fibers, and it’s definitely a close second in the favorite medium department.
Has being a mom changed your perspective on things? Have they changed how you work somehow? There’s a new sense of pride and responsibility in everything I do now. Everyday, there is the wanting and trying to be the very best momma and role model I can be for Fin, and that mentality of striving for constant improvement has trickled down into my workplace.
How do you balance motherhood with your duties as an artist? Pretty much, I just don’t sleep. But let’s be honest, isn’t that a rite of passage that everyone must enjoy when becoming a parent and balancing a career? When I was a teacher, I maybe did one or two shows a year. Since switching to full-time artist and mommy, I have tripled my show load. This fall, I have The Bayou City Art Festival in downtown Houston, the One of a Kind Show in Chicago and the DIME Store’s Handmade Harvest show, where I will sell my knitted-fiber works. On top of shows, I try to keep up-to-date art in the two spaces that showcase my work, The DIME Store in Denton and Artisan’s Collective in Dallas.
How does Finley keep you inspired? I’ve noticed a slight shift in the direction of my work since becoming a mom. While still quirky and a little unusual, my work has moved from creepy to childlike. There’s a constant theme of “home” and what that looks like for us since she’s come into our lives. I also have two series going on right now that are in direct reflection of her. One is a group of mixed media wood assemblages I’ve titled Fin Dolls where I’m documenting her new loves and discoveries. The other is a collaboration series I’m doing with Jake. He has been creating found poems about the two of us becoming parents together, and I have been creating mixed media pieces in response to his poetry. Two very different series, but both are equally fun and focused on our little one.
Words of wisdom for all the other moms out there? Parenting is hilarious, and we have to remember to not take ourselves so seriously all the time! Just the other day, I found myself sitting in the middle of my living room floor with a half-naked Fin wrapped in my arms, not knowing whether to laugh or cry because I somehow managed to slip and fall on a poopy explosion diaper that I had just stripped from her backside. While there have been many days that have ended in tears, that day I chose laughter … plus a good glass of wine later on that night to help heal my parenting wounds.