Patty St.Louis

May 13/14 and May 20/21

Portraits from the Landscape

I work exclusively with the subject of balanced rocks. I build balanced stone sculptures in natural and urban settings as well as draw, paint, photograph, and illustrate them. Focusing on a single subject allows me to explore materials and meanings in depth without the distraction of other narratives much like in my meditation practice when I clear my mind to discover the subtleties of a single breath. In the one, there are many.

The concept and practice of balance has become more socially relevant as we seek antidotes to our fast paced and increasingly technological existence. Myriad dualities coexist in a single image that at once recalls both gravity and support, tension and calm, yin and yang, human and nature, portrait and landscape.

There is a moment in the process of balancing rocks when I realize an arrangement will work if I have the patience to persevere. A unique personality nearly ready to stand on its own emerges like a faint whisper encouraging me to bring it to life. Photographing the arrangements from the most anthropomorphic vantage point highlights the parallels I see between rocks and humans. Like us, the rock stacks are erect beings, vertebral, and transient. My photos are often reminiscent of tourist photos or head shots.

In my paintings, I tend to maintain a classical figure drawing style and use mostly charcoal for my blacks. Whenever the line quality becomes lost, I reintroduce it, often laying dry material on top of paint to maintain a strong reference to drawing. A bold outline surrounds the form much like our skin encapsulates our human bodies, mysteriously containing us as we travel through life.

Rocks piles are my muse, not my model. With the exception of one structure which I use repeatedly, the forms are illustrations fabricated from my personal experience and countless images that run the gamut from ancient structures to the seemingly impossible work of contemporary land artists. The result is an iconic form that triggers an ancient memory of ourselves as part of our own landscape, responsible for and reliant on it.

Location and Contact Information

Studio or Exhibition Space
1016 Buena Vista Avenue, Alameda, CA, USA
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