Cassie Doyon: The natural world through mosaics

Tue, 06/07/2022 - 7:45am

Cassie Doyon won her first art award in third grade. She’d shown a gift for drawing at a young age, starting with sketches of her favorite Disney cartoons before branching off into the world around her. But it was a mosaic of a pinto horse running along the beach that secured her a second-place victory. It would be decades before Doyon, of Haverill, Massachusetts and Boothbay, would create another mosaic.

Doyon’s passion for the medium was reignited in 2014 while visiting daughter Linsey during a study abroad in Barcelona and seeing the colorful mosaics by Antoni Gaudi that dotted the city. 

“That did it for me,” said Doyon. She began collecting sea glass on the Barcelonian beaches that same trip. 

Most of Doyon’s mosaics are created using natural and foraged items such as sea glass, driftwood and stone. These less conventional materials have gained Doyon positive attention with her piece “Rebirth,” which features forged animal bones. It won 2019 Best in Show from New England Mosaic Society. In addition, Doyon repurposes materials like styrofoam which are more harmful to the environment. She credits coming of age in the ’70s and the increased awareness about climate change for her passion for environmental protection.

“Taking something that just doesn't serve a purpose in the environment and making it into something beautiful and inspiring is a strong goal for me.”

Doyon and husband Kevin are avid snorkelers and have swum off the coasts of Zanzibar, Thailand, Fiji and many more. She has witnessed the gradual death of reef systems and incorporated this theme into her art. 

Doyon also uses her work to address social justice issues. Her piece “Ripping Stitches” comments on the separation of children from their parents at the U.S-Mexico border. The broken heart-shaped sculpture depicts a child and adult’s hands done in patchwork, symbolizing America as a melting pot, reaching for each other. 

“It angered me so much to hear about innocent children being taken, because they're immigrants, and put into little cages. That shouldn't be happening in this day and age,” said Doyon. “So that's something that I've explored in my art (because) it shouldn't be forgotten, and needs to be remembered to prevent it from happening again.”

Other projects include a permanent installation at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, inspired by her nephew who is a brain cancer survivor, and the volunteer art-project Mosaic for Afghan Women.  Doyon has also been experimenting with incorporating resin and LED lighting into her sculptures. 

“I really love the interplay of adding light. It will change the whole look of a sculpture, the colors change and it's interesting seeing how it plays with shadow and reflection.”

She currently splits her time between her homes in Haverhill and Boothbay. Her family has been summering in the region for over two decades, and recently decided to move permanently after retirement. Doyon explained the natural lighting in the area, similar to her hometown of Gloucester, Massachusetts, has been a major source of inspiration. In addition, her home on Damariscotta River has given her a front seat to the flora and fauna. 

“Every day is just a real treat to see all this nature happening.”

Doyon’s work is on display at Boothbay Region Art Foundation. There will also be a showing at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in July, and a class taught by Doyon in August.