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John Casey

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Salem, MA

Birth year

Lives in
Oakland, CA

Works in
Oakland, CA


Massachusetts College of Art, 1988, BFA

sculpture, figurative, surrealism, mixed-media



John Casey is obsessed with fictitious human morphology, which he explores in his ink drawings and small sculptures. At first glance, his works seem to portray a menagerie of deformed creatures. A collective analysis reveals this array of oddball creations to be a series of psychological studies — self-portraits of the artist's inner psyche in all of its multifaceted incarnations. Some sad, some horrific, and some whimsical, these characters evoke responses from laughter and sympathy to disgust and discomfort. While one might call Casey's work the exorcising of inner demons, his creations inspire more empathy than they do loathing. By depicting the grotesque as pitiable, John Casey illuminates the darkest corners of the mind, seeking redemption for all of us.

"My creatures are called monsters by some, but I often feel that the connotations associated with 'monster' don't always apply to these little guys unless one can add descriptors like 'vulnerable' and 'fragile' to the definition of monster. Maybe I have issue with the monster moniker because I see my critters as self-portraits. Nick Capasso, director of the DeCordova Museum, once referred to my work as 'little exorcisms' and I like that description. The idea that I expel my inner demons in the form of drawn, painted, or sculpted critters appeals to me."


"You're either a genius or completely nuts." — John F. Casey, Sr. [my dad]



Born on Friday the 13th in 1964 in Salem, Massachusetts, John Casey has been inventing creatures as soon as he was able to hold a crayon. Drawings that his mother saved from when he was only three years old reveal an obsession with the figure. The figures in these drawings show not only the distorted perceptions of a child, but a fascination with skulls, teeth, spirographic eyes, and invented body parts. This obsession with strange creatures continued throughout his youth. "Monster models, war dioramas, dinosaurs, and horror movies on the T.V. [this included "Creature Double Feature" on Saturday afternoons, of course] occupied much of my time." 

John graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston in 1988 with a BFA in Painting. Several years ago he relocated to Oakland, California with his lovely wife Mary


Recent Exhibits

John Casey participated in these exhibits:

Mar, 2015 Happy Accidents - Artist Talk and Closing Tea
The Compound Gallery and Studios
Feb, 2015 The Zealot's Elixir
Modern Eden Gallery
Jan, 2015 Happy Accidents: New Work by John Casey
The Compound Gallery and Studios
Jun, 2013 Désirance
Galerie Polaris
Oct, 2012 Root Division’s 11th Annual Art Auction
Root Division
Oct, 2012 Root Division’s *BUY NOW* Art Auction Preview & Artist Reception
Root Division
Click here to see all exhibits for John Casey
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