arts and pop culture | May 07, 2013

Disrupting Convention—One Drawing At A Time: Molly Crabapple, In Vice

"We live in the age of the ubiquitous image," art speaker Molly Crabapple proposes in a telling new piece written for Vice magazine. We are living in a time where photos are being taken around the clock by everyone around us. Many of these images are plastered around the internet and end up circulating through cell phones and emails. Drawings, Molly says, are a welcome contrast to all of that. "Drawing is charmingly ineffectual in comparison," she writes. "You take photos. Drawings you make. Cameras steal life force. Paintings, like The Picture of Dorian Gray, give you more." Crabapple, now a successful artist and the founder of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, began drawing when she was only four years old.

Sketching the people around her acted as a way to survive in the sometimes aggressive world that surrounded her. "Being small and skilled, you learn to create little portals of escapism," she recalls, "to which the strong are as susceptible as anyone else." Proving she can tell just as intriguing a story with her words as with her pencil, Crabapple's article documents a life-long journey through the world of art, and the passionate connection she has developed with drawing. Never content to take the traditional route, nor to ask for permission in doing so, Crabapple says there is a "disruptive" quality inherent in sketching that has drawn her to it. "You're producing when you're expected to consume," she explains in the piece.  Further, art allows you to react and interact with society in a way unlike any other form; it incites a "twin desire" to both "mock power" and "to please," she says. 

In her personal and inspiring talks, Crabapple shows us what it means to make art, and the power that it can have on the world. Art has a visceral connection with those exposed to it; sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Crabapple recalls the angered confrontation she received from a New York City police man when he saw her sketching him in court, and the hostile reaction of a Moroccan religious fundamentalist who ripped her drawing of him in half, as a testament to the powerful response a sketch can invoke in people. She hasn't only experienced negative reactions, of course. As she concludes in her Vice essay, another man found her ripped up sketch, taped it back together, and returned it to her. Artists do not have to, nor should they, stand on the sidelines. She advocates putting yourself out there and doing things your own way. While some people may react with outrage, others will react with compassion and stand alongside you. And that, Crabapple says, is what gives her the passion to continue her work.