Opening Reception: Thurs. Nov. 6, 5:00-8:00 pm
At Shift through Nov. 29
“The threshold between the known and the unknown is where my art begins… A prompting, a curiosity, a dare.”
Patrice Donohue describes her art as centered on the concepts of connection, intersection and—always—experimentation.
“The threshold between the known and the unknown is where my art begins,” she says. “A prompting, a curiosity, a dare.”
Across several mediums, her current Shift show “Off Plumb”, connects her past life in New York and reverence for the New York Times to her current preoccupation with sculptural texture, intersecting lines and the play between black and white and vibrant color, most often in the geometric form of the grid.
From the metal weave of a shopping cart buried in snow in a pair of photographs from a Brooklyn winter, to a series of whited out newspaper stacks bundled in cloth, to the block presentation of flame-colored square encaustics etched with ladder forms, the grid is everywhere in Patrice’s work over the last few years.
As a Jungian therapist concerned with the personal unconscious and the importance of symbols in human life, she says she is still working out what it all means.
Although her forms may at first blush seem coolly mathematical, they pulsate with emotion.
The personal feeling and empathy imbued in her work is most evident in the show’s centerpiece, an ambitious 72 by 92-foot wall hanging of lovingly selected, layered and inked-over front pages of the New York Times with colored photographs and snippets of poignant stories like the Newtown shootings of two years ago showing through darkness.
“There’s just a visceral connection to these human stories in the newspaper that is not available online”
Titled Lament, the work is a paean to the disappearing newspaper industry and, in particular, the Times’ daily importance to Patrice.
She says it stops her in her tracks when she learns something from the newspaper that strengthens her relationship to the rest of the world. “There’s just a visceral connection to these human stories in the newspaper that is not available online,” she explains.
The act of creating the piece itself was almost a form of supplication for Patrice. Due to its unwieldy size, she had to kneel over it laid out on her driveway and, in a bowing motion, gently rub the pages with Super Black Speedball ink. “There was just a tenderness in doing these pieces,” she says.
In her companion, whited-out Unbound series of cloth-tied stacks as well as small pieces of newspapers, Patrice says she got caught up in the “holding-the-story energy behind them.”
“Sometimes, in allowing ourselves to be there and to not struggle a light emerges to show us something.”
Other parts of Patrice’s show are reflective of the discovery and innovation always evident in her work. Another stack of newspaper pages, framed and inked out in black reveals a luminescence that “says a lot for me about our staying in liminal spaces,” Patrice says. “Sometimes, in allowing ourselves to be there and to not struggle a light emerges to show us something.”
This happened for Patrice herself in her taping off a grid for her acrylic painting Wave v. 2. She unintentionally pulled up pieces of paint in lifting the tape, and, upon reflection, decided she liked the resulting, ragged effect.
Always involved in some form of art practice—even when deeply immersed in social justice work as a young woman—Patrice has moved though the years from photography, documentary film study to encaustics as the gateway to her current work.
The works continues to evolve in her imagination, even as she sits her one-woman show. At the moment she’s ruminating about the waxed ties in her white newspaper series as a possible springboard to new work—or not. “By putting my work out there, there’s a process of doing it and then of showing it that itself advances my work by leaps and bounds,” she says. “It forces me forward.”