Last spring I was invited to exhibit at RMCAD in their small Rude Gallery. The space is 15 feet by 8 feet with 12 foot tall ceilings. I wasn't sure what I wanted to investigate for my new body of work, but by July I had decided on tornadoes. Growing up in Kansas, I have always identified with tornadoes as they were a constant force every year that brought curiosity, fear and excitement to the late spring and early summer days. The sky grows dark and ominous, turns to a moody grey green, then a stillness and the storm breaks in. Great thunderstorms with vast lightning would streak across the skies and there was a real sense of being alive.
As tornadoes swept across the US in unprecedented areas this year, I felt that my personal identification with them was somehow shifted. "What I Thought Was Once Mine is Now Ours" is a new series of artwork that explores these thoughts. The Rude Gallery exhibition contains a large tornado sculpture based on one of my drawings. Exhibition dates are August 26th through October 7th, 2011. A painting, drawing and printmaking exhibition of the same title will be held at Naropa's Lincoln Gallery in October.
The sculpture "What I Thought Was Once Mine is Now Ours" is made of steel, wire, wood, fabric, fiber fill, paint, sand, hand made rope, papier mache and fur. Mathias Leppitsch donated so much time in helping me by welding the armature, problem solving potential issues, assisting in the planning and install and in general making sure that I kept my cool as time ran out. Major thanks goes out to him.
Concrete Stair Construction:
The finished piece:
Poetry reading and sculptural performance for the chapbook launch of Dana Elkun's Black Box Theater as Abandoned Zoo. Performed at Endden Bellegrade in Boulder, Colorado on 18 March 2010. Read by Dana Elkun. Designed & Performed by Pattie Lee Becker and Lacey Coover.
"Black Box Theater as Abandoned Zoo" Performance
I've been up at Anderson Ranch for three weeks now, and have one week left. This place is amazing. It's downtime for the Ranch and for me. They are in between their summer programs and winter residencies, and I am the only visiting artist up here. The initial week was challenging as I adjusted to an empty studio and extremely solitary hours. I had some sort of existential crisis as I wondered for days about the meaning of art and of being an art-maker. It's hard to find motivation for making a new body of work when you are confounded by your day to day movements and desires. I was struggling. I sought out Clarissa Pinkola Estes and Alan Watts. I took walks and processed.
Time progressed and I settled in, and then, art making became exciting once more, less cerebral and more active. I've compiled a ton of ideas, studies, prototypes, and should have a handful of finished pieces by the time's end. I feel grateful to be up here, and after lots of tail spinning and questioning, re-invigorated to be an artist.
It's been an amazing time to explore new ideas and to free myself from my intensive drawing practice. My drawings have always informed my sculptures, but it is seldom that I get to focus this much energy and time on the creation of the sculptures. The facilities here are mind blowing, and so I've tried to take advantage of them. Here are a few images of the sculptures in progress that I've been working on while here at Anderson Ranch:
I'll be leaving soon, fueled by my new work and the experience here. It has been a gift. Genuinely. For those of you who don't know about Anderson Ranch, please check it out. They have amazing summer workshops, a fabulous residency program, and many other noteworthy things. Also, the people up here are generous, kind, and so very talented.
The exhibition Ropes at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art has been up for a couple of months and has one month to go before it closes. Please stop by and check it out if you are in the area. The series is composed of sixteen drawings and two sculptures all of which explore the simplicity and complexities inherent in ropes. Youngna Park at 20x200 wrote a nice piece on their blog: http://www.20x200.com/blog/2010/03/ropes-by-pattie-lee-becker-at-bmoca.html
Thanks to all of you who came out to the opening or otherwise and supported me and my practice. It means so much to me that all of you have shown up to take a look. Here are some exhibition images taken by the fantastic friend and photographer Ashley Davis.
The hanging sculpture is made of woodblock printed linen, batting, tubing, and steel. Theresa Haberkorn, a local Boulder woodcut printmaker helped me with the carving and printing. I had never met her before she agreed to come help on the project, and it was really nice working with her.
The Rope Pile (below) is made of handmade ropes that I created from various twines and other materials. Mathias Leppitsch, a fabricator, designer, and artist in Denver, welded me a specific hook that fit into my drill to speed up the otherwise antiquated process. We spun rope into the wee hours of the morning as the installation date drew near. A life saver.
There are also two other shows up in the first floor galleries that are very worthwhile: Beverly McIver and Steve Steele. It’s a privilege to be in their company.
In October, The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art held Boulder, Colorado's first Pecha Kucha Night. Pecha Kucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public.
It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world, inspiring creatives worldwide. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of "chit chat", it rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It's a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace.
The presenters were Mimi Steiger, Barry Ollman, Ryan Batch, Michelle Ellsworth, Ali Gid far, Pattie Lee Becker, Molly Baker, Monika Wittig, Alicia Davis, Joel Haertling.
I presented some older artworks with their corresponding narrative:
In the Lands of the Extinct or The Redevelopment Project
One day, in a moment of great disquiet, an urgent animal conference is organized to discuss the demise of their kingdom, forging a plan to hunt for an ancient portal, spoken only of in myth, in hopes that its discovery will offer passage to a new land. Over time, it is unearthed, and through this find, our animals leave us. Later, far into the future when our lands are not the only ones we know, when people are giants and lifeforms are scarce, this portal is rediscovered opening up possibilities to restore our world with species and kingdoms once thought gone forever. It is covered in leaves, with remnants of a unicorn, and twisting throughout, a heart of luminous and long ventricles.
This entryway leads the Travelers, a band of giants, a selected few chosen to roam from land to land in search of life forces, into worlds of great circumstance, hope, and peril. One struggles to recover a diamond-encased soul from the bank vaults of lions. Another is sent out to retrieve the diminishing element of song.
She gathers a hawk from a lonesome tree and readies herself to transport it back to our planet through a ring of stones. Forms have personalities and new purposes. These are mystical days. These are telepathic times.
The Travelers have warm clothes that serve multiple functions as tents, nests and packs. A diamond death blanket is worn to cover the dead in hopes to renew life. A flame carrier walks along a new land to bring light and warmth to where it is needed. A hat provides the carrying system and a pathway to transport his collections home.
In the light of day in the bright cold, a woman crouches by the fire and offers up a gift to the land in exchange for another diamond-soul. A bird companion, hers through shared stories, leads her from place to place in search of other's souls to collect and other creatures to encounter.
And traipsing though the lands, The Collector, a mighty traveler of great skill and power, searches in the deepest and darkest of places. With his death blanket, bird, nourishment, and leaves; he discovers remnants of an animal civilization not previously known in their world.
All of the travelers must look upon the ESP preparation chart and renew their connection to one another through the form. Their lives depend upon this communication. It connects them with animal, vegetable, and mineral. It fuels their minds and spirits with community and shared space.
hey also share a common symbol, an object which they keep in their pockets, of a feather on a patterned field of blue crystal with an arrow shooting forth. This icon represents a nest which supports the life that will be protected and saved through consciousness and fight.
Through this strength, persistence, and belief in a positive future; The Travelers make discoveries that begin to transform their land: the collection of diamond-encased souls, song, redevelopment organisms, flora and fauna. Seen here, returned to their homeland and presented on platforms, Electric Discovery is a pile of unicorn intestines and a unicorn horn surrounded by mushrooms discovered in a different land.
Later, we will discover that the combination proves fruitful in reintroducing the species. And will it have been a fortuitous find? And will the creature be true?
One Traveler discovers a spinning plant planet that captures its dying from the attack of others and transforms the dying into stars. Those already dead and gone are covered by The Traveler's death blanket in hopes to capture the souls so as to have material to build up their crumbling civilization.
This is the rebirth of a heart, a procedure that was carried out by one of the Travelers. The ceremony was performed in a cave where the damp nook breathed its air into the hands of the sky. Later it is realized that this object has both healing powers and evil destructive properties.
A Campfire Evolution is manifested by the work of more Travelers. A ghost pillow is set aflame in a campfire conjuring a true ghost to life. As he crawls out of his tent, his life is renewed and he becomes an assistant to the Travelers. The night will no longer be elusive and new adventures and opportunities are forged.
The campfire is composed of feathers, minerals, mushrooms, zebra tails, and sticks. This combination releases history and with the intention of the Travelers, the ghost is freed and willing to assist them.
The ghost leads them to a group of hand-holding furry rocks that together form a circle. They do not move nor make a sound, and the Travelers are perplexed by their purpose, until one ventures too close, and is sucked out of this world and into another. It is discovered that the rocks act as another portal.
The Collector, one of the most powerful Travelers, follows his fellow Traveler into the opening of a world he had hoped to find, a world so sad in its present state, but so teaming with life. This is the land the unicorns created long ago when their prescient minds came to understand their future demise.
They built a portal and it took them into nothingness until their bodies shed themselves into soil and land was created. Later the other animals discovered the entrance and with their inclusion the land eroded and all the unicorn died. Ever since, the animals of this land have been conjoining their forms together in hopes to recreate the unicorns.
This is a Unicorn Hoof Redevelopment Organism that is comprised of marmots, polar bears, bacteria, and worms. It is failing in its function, but succeeding instead in creating snake components that are rejoining and coming into a new creature.
And why the death of the unicorns? A battle was waged based upon misunderstanding. When the first animal discovered the gateway, it was a porcupine, and it jolted through space right into the heart of a unicorn -- the first death to occur in the land. It began a wave of destruction. These are the mineral shadow forms that cover the inside structure of the memorial death chamber built by the Travelers as a reminder of Reaction and its potential.
The very moment that the structure was completed, in another land not so far away, a woman burst out of a giant volcano.