By Jess Kwiatkowski
This is the third article in a series featuring the artists in PaLatte Art & Coffee from 4/06/18 to 06/30/18. Read the introduction and first article here.
Cassidy Villanos – www.marc-cassidyvillanos.com
A little bit about yourself?
I am Cassidy Villanos. I am an artist, designer, and creative interested in pursuing aesthetics and beautification. I am currently in my last semester at Kendall College of Art and Design working on my degree in Illustration. Born in the Philippines then raised in the burbs of Detroit, I came to Grand rapids to hone my artistic skills and explore my artistic imagination. I’ve discovered that I have an affinity towards glitter, metallics, and all things shining. There is something attractive about how they reflect and refract light, and I truly believe that is how we live our lives.
“I Am a God” is very close to a life size portrait, and the face seems to be obscured by- foil? – in the shape of a mirror. Is this a challenge to the viewers? A mystification of identity?
Yes, “I am a God” portrays a person holding up a mirror. The piece is meant to provoke the viewer into a state of self-reflection and undergo a ritualistic reconciliation with themselves. The image is made with silver leaf and is supposed to mimic the quality of a mirror. The reasoning for this is because it challenges the audience to look deeper into themselves, past their reflection, to formulate an answer related to their identity. The artistic flaw with using silver leaf is that you will never be able to have the same reflective quality of a mirror. The paradigm is that you will never truly understand yourself, and that your sense of identity will always be in jeopardy. You are put in a situation where you question your identity.
As the only piece hanging in Palatte, “I Am a God” seems very special to you. Why did you choose it?
I chose it due to its dark quality. You look into a mirror in order to see yourself in a different light. Mirrors have symbolic meaning. I refer to Greek mythology: Narcissus. I am not saying that I myself am a narcissus; rather it’s as a critique. We look at ourselves in a way that if we become too self-absorbed, we can lose ourselves. We almost become something that we are scared of becoming.
Your artist statement informs me that you walk a line between self-actualization and self-delusions of grandeur. How did you develop this approach?
Well, I believe that most of my paintings are self-portraits, a self-reflection; you might interpret. We all have a self-destructive nature—some people more pronounced than others. From that self-destruction, you keep lowering yourself into a pit until there’s nowhere else to go but back up that ladder. The lower you get then the higher you have to climb in order to achieve what you desire. All it takes is reflection, evaluating, and accepting your own flaws. We as a people can become lost in trying to obtain a perfect life. We forget that sometimes life has negative outcomes. We just have to accept them.
Which artists inspire you? What do you take away from their work, and how does it translate to your own?
I am inspired by many modernist and postmodernist works rather than a single artist. The philosophy behind the modernist era has influenced me to look at my process rather than the finished product. I truly believe the artist process is psychological to the way we are, and our process is a reflection of this. We can choose to plan, or let our subconsciousness take control and submit to it.
Is there something you’d like readers to know that I haven’t touched on?
There is something beautiful about self-destruction as an artist.