Meryl Pataky is an artist unlike so many we know. She strives in concept and technical form, with a wide range of skills that encompass working in neon, copperplate, and paper making. Her work is often introspective, and most definitely bold.
In her latest show ‘Future Sailor’ at Lebasse Projects in Chinatown (Los Angeles) she takes us on a trip through both the internal and external cosmos. Pataky’s work is on a museum contemporary level, while utilizing materials and ideas that have yet to be explored fully in the world of art and culture.
We sat down with the Pataky to discuss her work further…
1). Can you tell us a little about your particular aesthetic, and the subject matter you focus on in this particular body of work?
In terms of aesthetic, I normally go for an aged look. I patina/oxidize everything metal, even my hardware. I dislike shiny store-bought hardware in installation. I think attention to those details is very important. For this show, I tried to harness a very large subject matter: the universe and the nature of existence. I’m focusing on the elements in my work and specifically chose my materials so that they would reflect the elements that are made from the universe and stars. I pride myself in working with many of those elements including all of the noble gases in my neon work.
2). How did you first decide you wanted to become and artist? Your background? What formal or informal training have you received?
I knew I wanted to make things from a young age – I was pretty handy with Erector Sets. I had a dream I had a robot as my best friend, like in the Iron Giant, and I woke up sad realizing it was just a dream and I immediately went to my Erector Set to re-create him. I was about 8 or so. I have formal training in the form of a BFA. This is where I learned the importance of choosing materials and the attention to installation detail I mentioned. It pushed my process further and the way I think about making art.
3). How has your process and subject matter evolved over time?
I suppose my work, it’s process and subject matter has matured as I have over time. I have always been interested in the human condition and what makes us tick and that curiosity has turned into a thesis that I base my work around. I’ve done more research in an attempt to answer my own questions and that search has inspired me and helped my work to evolve.
4). Who/what are some of your major influences?
Joseph Beuys, Patrick Stoner (my man and amazing artist), Eva Hess, Cornelia Parker, my mother and father, Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrassi Tyson, Plato and the big thinkers, Anselm Kiefer and his lead plane and probably a lot more.
5). What’s next for you? Any exciting projects or opportunities?
I will be selling my jewelry at the Haight Street fair for RVCA this summer and taking work to ArtMRKT in San Francisco in May with LeBasse Projects. Other than that, I’m taking it easy the rest of the year and taking the time to build out my studio a bit more.
More on Future Sailor Via Lebasse Projects…ʻFuture Sailorʼ is a commentary on universal connection – creating a discussion of beginnings and endings by introducing cyclical imagery and concepts of existence. Pataky blends psychological and biological themes to bring attention to a universal order and its unbreakable pattern. This order and connection is applied to the basic pattern of life and death and expands to include subjective ideas of emotion, relationships, language and experience. Pataky combines a range of materials that tell a chronological story from their birthplace to their existence. Each material is either elemental or organic and has been specifically chosen to represent organic life and its building blocks – the elements created in the universe. Elements such as helium, carbon, neon and iron are the few created during the life of a star and precious metals like silver, gold and copper are the most rare – forged only during a starʼs explosive death. Each of these core elements is employed throughout the works in the exhibition. The viewer will experience an eclectic mix of works from neon light and small metal sculpture to fibrous handmade paper and copper etching. Each of the billions of stars in the universe follows the same pattern, from their birth to their death. Without this pattern, life would not exist. If our universe did not birth stars, there would be no light and no life. Consequently, our conscious and subconscious lives and emotions are a slave to an unseen and unbreakable pattern – a beginning and an ending. The artist states, ʻWe are all fools on a journey, as in the tarot, and must be aware and tolerant of our limited knowledge of the immeasurable.ʼ Originally from South Florida, Meryl Pataky moved to San Francisco to attend the Academy of Art University. She fell in love with the tactile nature of sculpture and pursued her Bachelors degree in the major. The artist works in a wide range of materials such as precious metals, steel, paper, neon and organic or found objects. Meryl is attracted to materials and processes that provide their own resistance to her hand like welding, small metal and glass bending (neon). She explains, “These materials and processes remind me of the importance of patience, a trait I normally struggle with. During my process, I am forced to behave and react as if I were a different person. A successful outcome is very rewarding; it is proof that I can survive and break through my limitations.ʼ Merylʼs work focuses on a personal narrative and poses questions about the nature of existence. Her neon work plays with the delicacy of language and communication.
Warholian’s own Michael Cuffe caught up with Pataky at her home, just as she was finalizing details on her show. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into the artist’s style and aesthetic.
- written and photographed by Michael Cuffe for Warholian
For more on ‘Future Sailor’ visit Lebasse Projects here: http://www.lebasseprojects.com/?page_id=4812
For more on the work of Meryl Pataky visit: http://merylpataky.com/