Patricia Chapman: The Pat Studio
Patricia's Website | Patricias's Blog | Patricias's Etsy
I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Patrica Chapman whose art I have adored since the moment I discovered her early this year (I know, I'm slow sometimes!). Her assemblages are rich with color, texture and powerful (and oftentimes witty) stories. Read below to get a little peek into her world and check out several of her tremendous pieces of wonderful art.
Click on the image below to see several additional
photographs of Patricia's amazing assemblages:
How did you get started as a mixed media artist and how long have you been creating
assemblage and collage?
I've followed my compulsion to create art my whole life. I started with the creation of elaborate mud pies and entire mini villages made of play dough when I was in grade school and relentlessly advanced to my present full time art mania. Out of college I worked with art consultants creating large scale commissioned fiber sculptures for public spaces and eventually I began adding metal, painted areas, and wire to the fiber elements and that is when my tendencies towards mixed media were born. About twelve years ago I was feeling the need for a radical shift in my art and I was traveling through Spain and visited Guadalupe and took a tour of the fabulous cathedral there. The super star of the cathedral is an ancient, primitive, wood carving of the black virgin and I witnessed the power of that little object to represent something so much larger than what it was to the people who had made a pilgrimage to come see her. So my experience in Guadalupe sowed the seeds of my idea to utilize objects in my art and that concept dovetailed nicely with my love for hunting through antique malls, flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales. I started making only assemblage, but as I collected more hand made papers and wonderful images in old books and magazines I felt the need to use that good stuff in collage.
How does your approach to assemblage and collage differ?
Generally with the assemblage I need to know what direction I'm headed in with the concept or message of a piece before I proceed. Sometimes the objects will lead me to the concept, but more often than not I have an idea for a piece and then need to find the objects that can illustrate that idea. I approach collage in a much freer fashion by throwing together images, papers, and text in a totally non preconceived way and then following whatever theme emerges. But presently, more and more of my work blurs the boundaries (if those boundaries even exist anymore) between assemblage and collage.
Do you have a favorite medium or technique you use consistently in your work?
Making assemblage requires working with so many different objects that need to be attached or adhered to each other or within a box or other substrate that I am constantly having to invent new ways of making those connections happen. Whenever it's possible I use bolts or wire as connecting devises, but I also use a vast array of epoxy glues in the assemblage and pretty consistently I use Golden soft gel as the "glue" for the papers in my collage. One material I use quite a lot is BriWax. It comes in a range of different brown shades, black, and clear. This wax is the final coating on the boxes I construct for my assemblage and I also use it to "antique" objects that have too new a look to them.
I include text in most of my work... printed, letter tiles, or letters stamped into polymer clay. The synergy
of the text and objects and images combine to make for a more powerful narrative.
Describe your working methods.
Most of my assemblages begin with a quick sketch of the concept I have. If the piece is to be created in one of the boxes I construct, I make a pattern and construct the box to the specifications of my pattern. After the construction and final sanding the finish work on the boxes takes four steps. The first coat is a 50-50 mixture of Golden molding paste and gel medium with some sawdust thrown in for a bit of texture. Then there are two coats of acrylic paint, then a wash of acrylic glaze mixed with acrylic paint, and lastly a coat of brown wax that is hand buffed after it dries. The objects that make up the assemblage sometimes come together in the box just the way I had conceived the piece and sometimes not so much. There are many times that I need to add, subtract, or alter the objects I'm working with. I work on several pieces at a time because at any one point glue or paint is drying and I need to be able to shift to another piece rather than wait on just one. And occasionally, just the way life itself occurs, I can't make a piece work at all, and that becomes another one
of those potent lessons in letting go.
Why does working with found objects, as opposed to drawing or painting or other modes of sculpture, appeal
It appeals to me immensely to work with objects that have a rich patina of prior history. Just the fact that somehow these objects I work with have survived over the years holds a compelling metaphorical value for me.
The resonance of familiarity, their presence and personality make the objects I use powerfully symbolic tools.
Do you have a favorite piece or pieces of art that you've made?
That's kind of like asking which one is your favorite child. Maybe that's why I only had one child... so I'd never have to pick a favorite. That said... I really liked a piece I finished a while ago titled "All Downhill". It features an old red snow sled and I cut and created an opening in the sled with a small vintage figure of a little man sliding down an incline. The text is "All Downhill From Here". What I love the most about this piece is the ambiguity it presents. Kind of one of those "Is the glass half full or half empty?" questions. The piece leaves it up to the individual to determine whether it's saying everything will be easier from now on or that everything will be getting worse.
Are there artists whose career you follow or draw inspiration from when creating your work?
I will be forever grateful to Joseph Cornell and Robert Rauschenburg for their brilliant work and for making
it acceptable to use found objects in "fine" art. Some contemporary artists whose work I consistently adore
are Alexis Smith, Keith Lo Bue, Luis Gonzales Palma, Susan Tibbles, Eduardo Recife, Lynn Whipple, James Michael Starr, Lisa Kokin, and Maggie Taylor.
What motivates you to create art?
Most likely obsessive compulsive disorder. But seriously... I am so very curious to see what my ideas will look like and to find out how a piece will morph over the time I spend working on it and what it's final manifestation will be. It always seems like such a magical process and I am endlessly addicted to it. I also find it enormously gratifying when people communicate to me a strong emotional connection with my art. It is that connection with people through my art that is most meaningful and motivating to me.
Do you have any upcoming events that we can look forward to seeing soon?
The first two weekends in October I will be part of the Open Studios Artists Tour in my home/studio in
Where can your art be found?
I have a vast sampling of my art on my web site at www.thepatstudio.com. This year I have made the shift to making my web site more buyer friendly and to alleviate concerns about purchasing art online I have a feature
on my site that allows my art to be seen in full screen minute detail. Also, I can be contacted through my web site and I would be very happy to set up an appointment at my studio if you are in the Boulder area.
I have a selection of smaller assemblage and collage work on my Etsy shop at www.thepatsudio.etsy.com. And I feature my life, my art, and other mysteries on my blog at thepatstudio.blogspot.com.
There is a feature article about my art in the Lark publication "The Altered Object" and a smaller inclusion in "Altered Art" (also a Lark publication). I have also been featured on Art-E-Zine and in Sarah Fishburn and Angela Cartwright's lovely publication Pasticio.
PBS produced a segment about a year ago featuring an interview with me in their series "In Context" that showcases people in the arts.
July 2009 :: Patricia Chapman >>
April 2009 :: Seth Apter, The Altered Page >>
February 2009 :: Charley and Kerin, Remnants of Olde >>
January 2009 :: Finnian, four year old artist >>