In honor of Women's History Month, we're hosting a series of pop-up events at the store every Saturday in March to showcase some of Richmond’s tremendous women makers.
Molly Reeder is an artist and stylist who specializes in botanical and food illustration, creating beautifully detailed representations of the fruits of the earth. We chatted with her to learn more about her inspiration, process, and relationship with food.
Come by the store on Saturday, March 26th to shop Molly Reeder’s artwork in person!
Your creative roots seem to be in baking, as a pastry chef at your sister and brother-in-law's gelateria in New Orleans. How did you make the transition into becoming a full time artist?
It took a few years of slowly building up my portfolio and taking on drawing and painting commissions on the side while I maintained some kind of baking work at the same time. I made wedding cakes for a long time while also nannying and juggling my art career. For me it was really good to have another source of income for long enough so that I felt like I could explore and take more risks with my art in order to grow as an artist. Eventually, my art was taking so much of my time that I let the other jobs go and I haven't looked back! It's not always a consistent way to bring an income in, but I've learned the ups and downs of it by now and can better prepare myself knowing what my slower seasons are and my busy seasons. Everything works out if you trust that it will.
Could you talk about your connection to food as an artist, stylist, and baker? Do they feel continually interwoven, always influencing one another?
They all complement and support one another. Styling is just another form of composing an image, but in a 3 dimensional space. Styling food requires you to know about what ingredients go together, what makes sense when viewing the image like a story, and what is beautiful and eye-catching. It is definitely where I feel the most free to play. I love food and everything that goes along with it- cooking, baking, sharing meals with people I love, learning about new foods and flavors through different cultures. I love that food holds so much connection and story, and that my paintings are another way for me to capture that love and story. Baking is such an easy, straightforward and well appreciated way of showing someone you care for them. We've all got to eat!
I think what I love about using food in all of these different areas is that it is the medium and inspiration, and I can play around with all of my senses as I create with it, whether that is on paper, in baking form, or styling with it.
You've stated that growing up with a blind mother made you pay deeper attention to the world, as you were verbally describing everything to her. How has this translated into your approach to painting and drawing?
I think it's given me an intuitive sense of what I find beautiful and what I notice visually. I feel that I definitely 'see' more than I would have if I hadn't been trying to see for someone else. Having to describe what I view with my eyes verbally, has made me better understand what I see in front of me to myself. It also required me to be very present. I was explaining to my mom what was happening right in the moment most times. That calls you back to the here and now, and requires attention- you can't get in your head too much. This is probably my biggest asset when creating. I can try to teach technique for hours on end, but if you aren't truly noticing and taking in your subject, the technique doesn't matter at all. Awareness is really the trick to making art you feel good about, because it is just simply your truth in that moment, laid down and explained for someone else to witness. And that is where the beauty lies.