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Meet Trailblazer Molly Sydnor

Today we’d like to introduce you to Molly Sydnor.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
When I was in elementary school, my mom signed me up for art therapy. Middle school was a peak drawing year where I’m pretty sure, I drew a portrait of Tom Welling from Smallville every day! In high school, I was in AP art courses and never thought much of it, I was just always happy to be making! Art and everything creative was something I always did secondary to sports. As long as I can remember, I was an athlete. If I wasn’t making art, I was training for some tournament. All my time was dedicated to either my school teams or my AAU/Club teams. I was a varsity volleyball and basketball starter as a freshman, so my junior year, I was highly considering college for sports.

This summer (going into my Senior year of High School), I attended The Maryland Institute College of Art Pre-college program. It was the same summer, I crashed my car due to cardiac arrest. I had spent the year before suffering seizures and many unknown health issues in relation. It wasn’t until after my accident that I had to hang up my jerseys and consider an alternative college path. This was the biggest decision of my life at the time, deciding to quit sports and become (continue on?) as an artist. I began to use art as my therapy. Having an unkown heart disorder at 17 is pretty jarring. I got an ICD (Pacemaker/Defibrillator) just shy of my 18th birthday. All my college applications were a way of letting all my teenage angst and medical frustration come to play.

In May of 2015, I graduated from The Maryland Institute College of Art summa cum laude with a BFA in Fiber art and concentration in experimental fashion and photography. I landed a Job here in Dallas where I began my career as a rug designer. My first job led me to many new opportunities for traveling and my first real (non-intern) work experience. I’m currently still a product developer for an interior design company. In all other waking hours (and sometimes, in my dreams), I am Molly Margaret Designer.

I draw, paint, sew, weave, photograph, you name it! I have participated twice in The Pin Show and Men’s Fashion Week Dallas showing two wearable sculpture/fashion collections. I’ve shown in a group show “Six” at Art Room Gallery in Fort Worth and had a solo show at Oak Lawn Coffee Shop exhibiting paintings and weavings. Currently, in my studio, I have started a new collection of paintings, weavings, and sketches for some new fashion work. It really never ends!

All I want to do is make and when I’m not making I’m going to shows and openings around Dallas. My favorite thing to do is attend the design district opening weekend when all the galleries sync up and have opening receptions on the same night! Every once in a while, I get to travel and pop into local galleries there! The last two years, I’ve attended art basel and it’s one of the most inspiring places to be!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My path as an artist has been anything but smooth. Between my heart condition, full time job, major FOMO (fear of missing out), lack of funds or even straight up exhaustion, being an artist is a struggle! However, I wouldn’t change anything for the world. I can think of ten positives for every one negative. Art is my career, it’s my passion, it’s my life! My parents have supported this journey 110%, I’ve had amazing teachers/leaders/mentors, my friends are artists, and those who are not are either super involved in artistic communities or extremely supportive. I try to take every experience and learn something from it and or use it in the narrative of my work.

My advice for other artists is always to keep making, never stop. A teacher of mine once told our class to network always… he said to go to that house party and talk your ass off. I never used that advice to its full potential until I came to Dallas with no friends, no connections, and no network of artists. I met people through work, instagram, and bumble. It was only after I made a core group of friends that I began going out to local events, parties or even just the bar! I started talking to people because I liked their outfit or even just because we were in the bathroom line. It was only then that I started to notice how many creatives there are out here in Dallas… we are just swimming in it! It was advice that I laughed at in college, the introvert in me cringed at the thought of talking to strangers, but now its just something I do around Dallas because of its so fun meeting new people. It’s inspiring! It’s part of the art making experience!

We’d love to hear more about Molly Margaret Designer (independent artist).
Around Dalla,s I think im most known for my fashion because of the local shows I have participated in. Ive also worked with models and photographers around the area shooting these collections. I wouldn’t say I specialize in any one particular thing because I have so many interests. While I love my fashion work, I still see it more as an extension of wearable sculpture. It’s all still so conceptual, I cannot see it as art first and fashion second. Besides fashion, a lot of people see me as a rug designer since I do that full time, and I’m pretty proud of my career as a product developer and cannot wait to see how my career unfolds. I think my range may set me apart most, while my day to day is spent designing rugs, that is only the beginning. My post work hours are spent working in the studio. Like I mentioned before, I’m a multidisciplinary artist, so I paint, draw, sew, weave, etc.

We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
I think there is a daily struggle for women that brings the barriers not just in the industry but in everyday life. We spend our lives being told in subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways that we are less than and never equal to men. I spent half of the college learning about art history and it’s mainly men! For every genre of art, there are ten men that dominate the era for every one woman… and even then half the time we are told who they slept with or were married to before we are told their names. I learned about Marina Abromavic because I was told her ex was the reason she broke face in her “The Artist Is Present” performance piece. And most people today only know her because of Jay Z’s appropriation of said piece.

Or how about in the Olympics when Corey Cogdell-Unrein won a bronze metal and was referred to as the “wife of Bears Lineman”. We make less yet our products cost more. Women can reach the highest point of success in their careers and the questions they are asked are why arent they married, or do they have a boyfriend (who says were all straight?) or whose watching their kids, or worse, about our looks. Serena Williams was recently asked if she was intimidated by Maria Sharapova’s looks, let me repeat, the greatest tennis player of all time, id argue greatest athlete of all time was asked about someone elses looks. On top of all the sexism, being a woman of color brings all kind of other challenges. While women are still reaching “firsts” in many fields, so are black men… and women.

Feminism is great but if its not intersectional than its useless. Pink pussy hats are great, but not all vaginas are pink, and not all women have them! I used to fear making political work because I didn’t want people to be offended. I was almost more scared of people not liking my work because of that. But facing my truths, my work has and always will be political. I am a black woman who white passes. My work was, is, and always will be about my identity and my blackness (or lack there of depending on who you are) is a fact.

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Image Credit:

Tegan Leighton Skaggs, Diamond Troutman, Shelbie Monkres, Vuman

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