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Color is her vehicle

Maryland artist’s works are featured at SMSU Art Museum

February 25, 2012
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - When artist Carrie Patterson creates her work, she'll visit the local hardware store to find materials.

Patterson's work, which includes paintings and monotypes, is on display through March 29 at the Southwest Minnesota State University Art Museum.

Art was always a part of her life, Patterson said, and she was constantly building things.

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Submitted photo
Pictured is one of Carrie Patterson’s artworks that is based on the St. Francis Xavier Church in her home state of Maryland. Patterson’s work is on display at the Southwest Minnesota State University Art Museum.

"I used to build towers and things with different coins," she said.

She and her family lived in Minneapolis until she was 9 years old.

"In the cold, you spend a lot of time indoors," she said, and her parents had a lot of art-related items around the house.

Patterson originally was an English major in college and intended to go onto law school.

"I spent all my time in the art studios and did better in those classes," Patterson said. She also took up metal-smithing.

Patterson received her undergraduate degree in studio art from James Madison University and her master of fine arts in painting from the University of Pennsylvania.

When she got out of college, Patterson worked for a couple of jewelers. From there she learned how to set up her own studio and get her artwork noticed.

Patterson was also a student resident at the New York Studio School. She said the school combines a rigorous training in looking at things and encouraging artists to think abstractly.

Patterson has had her work exhibited across the county, which includes the Bowery Gallery in New York City, the Bryant Street Gallery in Palo Alto, Calif. and the Nexus Foundation for Today's Art in Philadelphia, Pa. She's also had works on display in Colombia and Canada. She is an associate professor of painting and drawing at St. Mary's College in Maryland.

Five years ago, she got interested in the colonial chapels around southern Maryland, where she now lives, especially St. Francis Xavier Church. Patterson started to visit the chapel on a regular basis, drawing, writing and videotaping.

"My visits become a way of mining an experience of the building as a living body," Patterson wrote in her 2009 artist statement. "In the studio I create collages and paintings that become new experiences. By investigation an accumulated memoir of an experience repeatedly, I am able to created a simulated spatial experience. I am able to slow down the speed of information and find meaning in subtle variation."

Ed Evans, retired art professor of SMSU, said Patterson's art combines varied proportion rectangles of strategically placed color harmonies and contrasts.

"They're (the chapels) basically rectangles," she said, adding that there's just a few of the colonial chapels around her area. "They let the landscape in."

The materials she uses for her art are "super-accessible," Patterson said, and can be found at any Home Depot or Lowe's. In her work, she uses spray paint or house paint, barnwood and lattice strips. It's not high-end items, she added.

When she creates an artwork, Patterson said she's asking the viewer to basically ask "what is that?"

Her artwork's themes have included signs, which are based off of temporary billboards that are never removed.

"You can see the landscapes through them," she said.

Color is also important in her work, Patterson said.

"Color is my primary vehicle for whatever I'm exploring," Patterson said. Architectural forms are also important to her as well, she said.

Patterson said she's working on a new series of artworks that look like quilts.

"I like the idea of moving between media and form," Patterson said. "I like the idea of tricking the eye."



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