David W. M. Cassidy, M. Div.
Featured in Art of Activism
David W. M. Cassidy grew up in Compton and Los Angeles, California. Graduated from George Washington (Preparatory) High School in 1973. He received a B. A. in Urban and Rural Studies, University of California, San Diego, Third College, 1979. He served in the United States Navy as a Hospitalman, Field Medical Tech, X-Ray Tech, and Emergency Medical Tech. A graduate of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), C.H. Mason Seminary, 1990, graduated with honors and received the Master of Divinity (mdiv). Elder Dave was licensed in 1982, and ordained in 1990 by Bishop George Dallas McKinney Jr., Southern California 2nd Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, of the Church of God in Christ.
David Cassidy is a published writer and published artist (magazines and book covers, project designs, logos) and designed artwork for United Methodist Publishing and a Bio-portfolio “The Art of My Life.” He has also exhibited locally at the Prince George County African American Museum and Cultural Center and the Gateway Media Arts Lab, Howard County Arts Council exhibit (Race, Religion and Revolt); Student Teacher Art Exhibit at DeMatha Catholic High School; The Art of Interpretation under the umbrella of Howard University Club of Washington, DC, at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery and other local exhibits.
His medium of choice is oil on canvas. He is known for a cubist abstractionist style, the boldness of expression and attention to details of color and composition in his paintings.
David is married to the Rev. Dr. Lillian C. Smith, and they have two sons together, David Charles Jasper and Hayward Felton Earl Smith-Cassidy.
David’s first artistic talents became evident when attending Grape Street Elementary School in Watts, California. David’s teachers discovered that he never drew “lollipop” trees or stick people like other kindergartners. His trees had branches and the branches had individual leaves. David is not what you call a formally trained artist. The only art courses he took were in junior high (Roosevelt Jr. High, Compton, CA) and High School (George Washington, Los Angeles, CA) where he was primarily interested in ceramics, sculpture, and drawing.
My art is the result of my life experiences. I do the art; the art does not do me. What I am thinking about at any given time, may find its way into my poetry, paintings, drawings, sculptures, or photography. I like lots of colors with lots of vibrant, overlapping, and intersecting images. I want you to stop and stare to discover what is hidden in the artwork. I want to make your eyes work at searching out the story.
What I do artistically is part of what I believe can be classified as a distinct genre in art, African American art. It is (I believe) distinct from European art because it comes out of a distinct, although not monolithic, shared historical and sociopolitical reality, one that is unique to African Americans. My art attempts to tell a story, my story, your story, and our story. But African American art cannot be totally divorced from what is known, as a broad category of art, African art. African art cannot be reduced to a monolithic category that can be easily separated from its expression in diaspora. However, distinctions in the use of color, subject matter, the voice of the art (how the art speaks and what it says), and materials used may distinguish African art from African American art, from African Caribbean, African Haitian, or African Brazilian, etc. Even so, the rhythm of the art and the cadence of the beat will flow with a certain familiarity that is purely African in flavor and therefore unmistakable. This truer (I believe) of folk artist than it is of the more formally trained African American artist. Especially when the trained artist foolishly allows “a prefabricated technique,” or allow European artistic imperialism to construct and dominate their work rather than a flow of natural “in-born” creative curiosity.
Technology can kill a “naturally-gifted” artist (It does not have to). It can improve one’s technique, expand one’s choice of creative avenues outside of the artist’s normal purview. I have always craved formal training, but I have not had the time to pursue it. Too busy painting.
It is the spirit of the artist that makes art truly live. Art that comes out of the “raw” spirit and soul of the artist is far more useful than that which is merely the technical manipulation of substances. African American art can therefore be copied technologically, but it cannot be fully reproduced outside of the womb of soul and psyche of those who have been “gifted” existentially with the call to speak with an artistic voice.
In my work I like to say it is not a mono-vocalization you hear, but the captive voices of many waters fed by many tributaries of shared experiences.