A Natural Response
"Nancy Fletcher Cassell’s ink paintings have a distinguished lineage. They depart from the rhapsodic line of America’s greatest draftsmen, Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. These artists’ achingly beautiful works are usually thought of as metaphors for gritty urban life. Some of the titles they gave their works, however, suggest a mystical communion with nature, such as Gorky’s One Year the Milkweed, Pollock’s Sounds in the Grass: Shimmering Substance, and de Kooning’s Door to the River."

"Cassell borrows from their swirls of line, but in so doing rediscovers the transcendental thread of pantheism that binds together so much American art. Nancy Cassell’s paintings extend the vision of the abstract expressionists, and throw a new light on their work—as art rooted in particular places and particular experiences, as pictures which feel the feelings biological life evokes instead of depicting the facts of vision. It is less a style that Cassell finds usable in her abstract expressionist forbears than a subject—the cycles of nature and the pattern of birth, growth, death, and regeneration."

"From this heady New York art historical past, Nancy Cassell has crafted a pure Kentucky product, profoundly evocative of trees and earth. But what amazing ground and plants and sky! Spring seems to be their season; buds pop explosively, roots do corkscrew pirouettes, and the sky seems to catch hold of the tree limbs and set them spinning. Cassell’s epiphanies rollick back and forth, but do so with exquisite control and modulation of the ink flow, and a deft sense of their orderings in space.
Whatever dark nights may bring these images forth, they derive from a hallelujah place, rural in character, intimate, close to the observation of nature, but joyous and triumphant."

"Dylan Thomas offers a test for Nancy Cassell:
1) The force that through the green fuse drives the flower drives my green age."

"And D. H. Lawrence explains the particular perception that these works are about:
2) The spirit of the place is a strange thing. Our mechanical age tries to override it. But it does not succeed. In the end the strange sinister spirit of place, also diverse and adverse in differing places, will smash our mechanical oneness into smithereens and all that we think the real thing will go off with a pop, and we shall be left staring."

Peter Morrin
Director, The Speed Art Museum

Reprinted with permission from The Universe Watching: The Art of Nancy Fletcher Cassell, exhibition at The Speed Art Museum.

1) Dylan Thomas, “The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower”, in The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas 1934-1952 (New York: New Directions, 1971) 10.

2) D. H. Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia and Selections from Twilight in Italy (New York: Doubleday, 1954) 65.