Patricia Hagen's mixed media paintings begin with images abstracted from natural forms such as cells, bacteria, viruses, seed pods, and plants. These images are starting points for her language of forms. These forms are abstracted and put together into "systems" which seem sometimes to be on a microscopic level, other times on a bodily level, and yet other times on a galactic level.
Patricia is interested in apparent contradictions in life. Her pictures pit clarity versus obscurity, familiarity versus strangeness, repulsion versus attraction, humor versus tragedy. These opposing forces represent for her the essence of being human; we are heroic and we are degenerate. Patricia's aim is to marry beauty and deformity, pleasure and fear. These pictures embrace the intrinsic beauty found in the natural world. They also address the fears and anxieties that pervade our time.
Brian Sherwin: Patricia, tell us about your educational background. Do you have formal training in art? If so, who were your instructors and how did they influence you?
Patricia Hagen: I have a BFA from Miami University in Oxford Ohio, and a MFA from California College of the Arts in San Francisco. At Miami, I worked mostly with a wonderful professor by the name of Crossan Curry. He taught us to take our work seriously and to think about what we were doing and why. I worked with several different people at California College of the Arts. Interestingly, not many painters. I worked with the photographer Larry Sultan who turned me on to Roland Barthes and the sculptor, Dennis Leon who taught me about the importance of scale in my paintings.
Array- oil on acrylic on canvas, 60" x 48", 2007
BS: Patricia, tell us about your early artistic influences and experiences. When did you decide to pursue art?
PH: I have the distinct memory of going to a Saturday art class when I was very young, maybe four or five and leaving the first session incredibly excited . I was totally engaged and knew I had found something that was important to me.
BS: With that said, how would you say that your work has advanced since that time?
PH: My work has gone through countless stages since that time. I did allot of representational work, mostly people and landscapes when I was in junior high and high school. In undergraduate school, things became more abstract and have continued to do so ever since.
Adrift- oil on acrylic on canvas, 60" x 48", 2007
BS: Patricia, can you go into detail about your artistic process? How do you begin a piece? When do you know that a piece is finished?
PH: I work in series and will do many pieces using the same set of forms. I have been working for about six years now with forms that were inspired by electron-microscope photos of cancer cells, AIDS viruses, different bacteria , and other natural forms. The forms become abstracted and evolve into what becomes my visual language. I try to be very open when beginning a painting. I start working and then react to what I have done. It is a pretty intuitive process for me. I know that a piece is finished when it has a life or presence.
Rabble- oil on acrylic on canvas, 48" x 60", 2007
BS: Patricia, how does current world events influence your work? In other words, how does contemporary life impact your creative practice?
PH: I am always doing Google image searches for different items that are in the news:the Aids virus, anthrax, avian flu,influenza, different types of cancer cells, etc. These images then work their way into new paintings.
BS: Patricia, tell us more about the philosophy behind your art. What motivates you to create?
PH: I would love to say that I feel a need to make the world a better place through my art, but truthfully, it is more like I am addicted to the high of creating something that is new to me or that surprises me.
BS: Why did you choose to work in the medium(s) that you utilize? Also, can you tell us about your studio routine? Do you work in silence-- listen to music..
PH: I love the challenge of making something two dimensional come to life and have a real presence. I also do sculpture sometimes, but drawing and painting are somehow more satisfying to me. I usually listen to music when I am in the studio. I like to listen to sort of dark and quirky music like Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Firewater ,Kings of Leon, and Devotchka.
Brink- oil on acrylic on canvas, 60" x 48", 2007
BS: Patricia, what are you working on at this time?
PH: I am doing a group of watercolors on heavy (300 lb.) Arches watercolor paper using the forms I discussed earlier.
BS: Are you involved with any upcoming exhibits? Where can our readers view your work?
PH: I just had a solo show at Punch Gallery here in Seattle. My work can be seen in the 2007 Pacific Coast Edition of" New American Painting "which was curated by Alma Ruiz of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and will be in the books stores December 1st.
BS: In your opinion, what are some of the problems facing artists today?
PH: Same as it ever was: making a living while remaining true to your work.
BS: The Internet is changing how we discover and view art. In your opinion, how have sites like myartspace.com empowered artists?
PH: On the Internet, I have found other artists working with similar ideas as mine, working with those ideas in different ways and that is re-affirming and exciting for me as an artist. I also use the Internet to scout out galleries that might be appropriate for my work.
BS: Finally, what are your goals as an artist? What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
PH: I have the same desires as many people to be successful in my profession, but it always comes back to the work. I mostly want the work to continue to improve and become more clear in intention. It is a continual process.
You can learn more about Patricia Hagen by visiting her website-- www.plhagen-art.com. You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page-- www.myartspace.com/interviews
Take care, Stay true,