BY AMANDA MOSES
Late at night, Megan Casey sits in the corner of her bedroom in Spring Creek Towers, pouring over her drawing desk with a variety of colored pencils sprawled across it. As an artist, Casey is at the whim of her craft and when inspiration strikes she has to immediately take pen to paper, no matter the hour.
At merely 15 years old Casey has something that others take years to strive for—and that is an unwavering passion. With a small stature and timid voice, Casey’s humble demeanor represents only a fraction of her larger than life personality. Accept-ed into the elite Fiorello H. Laguardia High School Of Music & Art and Performing Arts as a sophomore applicant, Casey aspires to be-come a graphics designer for video games. “I want to bring the story of video games to life to the best of my ability, and making the game more enjoyable for the players through its graphics,” Casey said.
She knew that being an artist was her calling at only 10 years old. Casey was entirely enraptured by the colors and intricate characters from the Japanese animated series, Pokémon. She loved these little caricatures so much so that she would often Google their images and draw them; however, she would never trace the pictures. Her eyes would simply follow the structure of the character and then her hand simply flowed across the page.
“When I conceptualize a piece of art, I think about the color scheme and how to convey my message,” Casey said. In a way, art is a form of escape for Casey as she imagines a world that is driven by her emotions. It is through this imagery that she was able to find her individual voice, both as a person and artist. For her freshman year of high school, Casey was enrolled in a high school in Andover Massachusetts, which is preparatory boarding school. Although she thoroughly enjoyed the academic aspect of the school, her artwork allowed her to realize that she needed to be in a school that catered to her passions.
After a lengthy audition in Manhattan, Casey was accepted into Laguardia for her sophomore year. The transition was hard but she continues to speak to people through her art. If she is happy, she will draw pictures that invokes love. Yet, if she is feeling down, she will create something dark that will shine a light over her sadness and illuminate others to that subject. “I tend to create pieces that coincide with how I am feeling,” Casey said.
Casey’s mother is a single parent raising three children. Despite the strenuous demands of parenting, Casey’s mother always supported her daughter’s dream. Whether it’s purchasing sketchbooks or taking her to a high school audition, her mother is her biggest advocate. Perhaps it’s her mother’s incredible strength as a parent and staunch support as to why Casey finds the superheroes in comic books so interesting. Like her mother, they fight to protect the hopes and dreams of those around them.
Aside from her mother, Casey looks up to artists like Kehinde Wiley who is a New York native visual artist known for his stunning, life-like paintings of African-Americans. “Kehinde Wiley is my inspiration due to the contrast of colors in his art. In his paintings, he usually uses complementary colors such as blue and orange to make certain ideas stand out more,” Casey said. It is Wiley’s vivid portrayals and ability to create a piece that is so striking it is hard not to look at. His work speaks volumes, and that is what Casey hopes to achieve one day.
As a self-taught artist, she has cultivated her craft by observing anime, manga, comic books and video games before emulating these images in her sketchbook. “I am passionate about art due to the fact that there are so many ways to interpret one piece of art, and that there are so many ways to draw one simple idea,” Casey said.
Casey is particularly fond of con-temporary illusion art, especially surreal drawings that can appear on way to some but another to someone else. She believes that art is all about perception and how that piece speaks to a person. If there were anything that Casey could hope for in her career as an artist, it would be to create a piece of work that inspires hope.
“I would want my artwork to give somebody hope. The world is not perfect, and there are so many people all around us struggling with money, relationships, racial issues, gender biases—just so much. I want my art to tell them that they are not alone and every-thing will be okay. You will get through whatever you are going through. If you need help there are people around you to support you,” Casey said.
At the moment, Casey’s artwork is featured in the hallways of her school, but she hopes that someday her drawings will grace the walls of a gallery and be featured in a video game.
Photo by Amanda Moses, artwork courtesy of Megan Casey