Artist’s Insights: Cassia Kite by Marty Fugate

“You can take a girl off of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the girl.” The art of Cassia Kite offers proof of that statement. She was born and raised on a family farm in Auburn, Nebraska. Her upbringing continues to inform her creations.

“My work  communicates the nostalgia, appreciation, love and admiration that I have for my farm life,” she says. “You can see that heritage throughout my work, whether it be the imagery of farmscapes, portraits of family members or abstract constructions of memories involving symbolism. Everything I create has historical and sentimental relevance to my past and present. Every piece stands in relation to my own personal narrative.”

This perspective doesn’t mean she’s living in the past. Kite’s latest work is a multimedia journey in augmented reality.  Three of these paintings are part of the #postdigital exhibition at Art Center Sarasota. Kite’s subject matter is down on the farm. But there’s more to the paintings than meets the eye.

CHORES Black Angus Baldy Steer 2015

Cassia Kite’s “Black Angus Baldy Steer” (CHORES series, 2015)

With the aid of the Aurasmaapp, viewers with smart phones and tablets can access videos associated with her two-dimensional paintings.

“Black Angus Baldy Steer” is part of Kite’s Chores series of cattle paintings which take inspiration from documentary photography. It’s a simple image of a solitary head of cattle in a realistic field, blurred, painterly demarcations suggesting the layers of memory. A window on a smart device reveals deeper layers of memory — a montage of video on her family farm. You see a wind-blown Kite in the back of her father’s tractor; grain pouring into a feed trough; a line of patient cattle heading out to the fields. The physical reality behind the painter’s vision unfolds. And also the emotional connection.

Cassia in Overalls for Postdigital 2016

Cassia Kite’s “Cassia in Overalls”

“Cassia in Overalls” is a portrait of the artist as a farm girl — a simple study in graphite and acrylic. The artist confronts the viewer with a direct gaze, neither confrontational nor shy. The Aurasma app takes you to spoken word excerpts from M.J. Howard’s “A Farm Built on a Handshake” — a collection of short fiction Kite illustrated with her landscapes and crisp studies of humans, animals and other characters.

ACS-Kite_Nebraska Winter Cornfield 2012

Cassia Kite’s “Nebraska Winter Cornfield”

“Nebraska Winter Cornfield” is a miniature painting of a landscape on Kite’s family farm. Thanks to augmented reality, the image becomes a portal to photographs of the place itself.  Opening doors is what her art is all about.

Kite notes that, “I still create my art in traditional two-dimensional media. A program like Aurasma literally adds another dimension. But it’s not meant to be a substitute. I still use my eyes, hand, pencil, paint and canvas to create. I’m not interested in a digital alternative at the moment. But digital technology can be a doorway to something more. And I’m extremely interested in that!”


Originally published in Ticket Sarasota.