PLATTSBURGH – Artist Patricia Downs showed a trio of solo exhibitions in 2021 at Chapter One Coffee and Tea, the Strand Center for the Arts and City Well.
Three of her works, “Ulcerative Geodes”, “Midnight” and “Fluctuating Blues”, can be seen until December 31 at the Annual Holidays Members Show at the Strand Center Gallery, Brinkerhoff St. 23, Plattsburgh.
The exhibition includes painting, drawing, photography, jewelry, sculpture, fiber, ceramics, stained glass, bead weaving, printmaking, mixed media, and woodwork.
Featured artists include Downs, Herb Carpenter, John Cullen, Ann Pember, Suzanne Doin, Sandy Fox, Judy Guglielmo, Marilyn Kretser, Douglas Wooser, Wind Sop, Ed Rice, Kim Berg, William Leege, Jennifer L. Ashline, Anne Bailey , Charlene Newman, Darlene Cullen, Bill Crosby, Ian Burcroff, Dick Brogowski, Jim Kobak, Renee Gifford, Ron Nolland, Bob Lange, Michael LaFontaine, Emily Latour, Angela Nephew and Eric Timmerman.
For “Ulcerative Geode”, Downs was creative in a deep valley, body and mind.
“I felt like I had no inspiration, motivation or energy to create,” she said.
“I didn’t feel good physically either. I felt like my insides were going to give me away. The spark came from curiosity to experiment with materials and processes. “
Your idea grew out of a what-if question.
“What if I started this piece by creating a latticed armature like a skeleton for the piece out of wire?” She said.
“So I made this skeleton that supports the sculptural structure on the inside, then I woven strips of fabric between the bars.”
When the trellis was completely covered, Downs crocheted strips of fabric in protuberances.
“Then I kind of pushed and pulled and warped the whole piece and made it into a shape that felt right,” she said.
“It’s like the big red with those weird protruding shapes that come out of it.”
“Midnight” was initially inspired by the fabric.
“I loved the deep dark blue of the material,” she said.
“I used the wire mesh anchor technique and woven strips of this dark blue fabric between the bars. Then I warped the wire underneath to get the shape I wanted and crocheted protrusions from the same dark blue material. It was basically completely inspired by the color, texture and feel of the material itself. “
Once again, Downs was inspired by the fabric and her emotional state in making it.
“I felt like my mood was fluctuating from okay to very low, but also very anxious,” she said.
“I wanted to represent that in a form. So I started with a piece of driftwood for a more natural look. Then I crocheted it off with a blue cotton striped fabric in a zigzag pattern.
“Then I used other colors of blue strips of fabric to crochet curved zigzag lines the length of the piece that overlap each other. So the overall effect was these kind of chaotic, zigzag overlapping lines on a blue field. “
Downs is from Plattsburgh and has loved creating all her life, according to a Strand press release.
As far as she can remember, she rummaged through the art closet in the kitchen and found materials that she could turn into art projects.
But she was never satisfied with drawing and painting. She wanted to “do things”.
In high school, she found her love of creating art and decided to build a portfolio to apply for an art school, eventually settling at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
During this time, Downs created a work based on the assignments set, but it wasn’t until she took her first abstract sculpture course that she became obsessed.
From autumn 2017 to spring 2019 she spent all of her energy making sculptures, collages and mixed media works.
Her college experience culminated in her graduation project, a massive fiber sculpture titled “Paralyzed in the Deep Dark”.
Downs lives and works here, where she is building an extensive facility using blended, recycled media and mixed fibers.
She is currently creating sculptural wall hangings through processes such as crocheting, weaving, knotting and sewing.
That fall, she was teaching a soft sculpture class on the beach.
In her artist statement, Downs writes:
“I combine processes that are often viewed as ‘domestic’ or ‘female’ work with contemporary art. I combine the ideas of craft, skill, utilitarian process and abstract art.
“I actively try to reduce the stigma surrounding craft processes by showing what is possible with exploration and experimentation with craft methods and media.
“I don’t make a quilt or crochet a pot holder, but I honor traditions and elevate the processes of fine arts.”
“Between Layers and Stitches” was the title of her solo fiber art exhibition on the beach.
“I try to use mostly fully recycled materials,” said Downs.
“This is a big deal for me. I’m trying to create a fairly waste-free studio practice. I keep all my scraps of fabric from pieces and use them in other pieces. “
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