Symbolic Expression: The Art of Andrea Patrie
Huntington Beach based artist Andrea Patrie describes her work as a physical process, kinesthetic in nature, and very much aligned with the intuitive. Patrie also views her work as psychologically charged, introspective, and in the end insightful. It is Patrie’s desire to come away from each piece with a little more clarity about the subject to which she was drawn. Regardless of the medium or the size of the piece, Patrie’s work is centered in the body, and one quickly notices when viewing Patrie’s work that with each piece there is a sustained effort to seek out that particular gesture, line, fragment of text, which not only informs, but completes the image as a whole. Patrie says she is interested in embracing the unfamiliar in an effort to go to that place where the work flows and thoughts are non-existent, it is this location that drives Patrie to create. Patrie describes this creative ground as a place where there is no judgement, where the mind is not in charge, where intuition takes over and the body overrides the mind.
Recently the OC Art Blog visited Patrie’s studio and asked a few questions about her background, and the direction of her work. For more information about Andrea Patrie and images of her work, please visit her website. The interview follows:
What initially inspired you to start making art? Tell us a bit about your background.
I grew up in Scripps Ranch, at the time it was a pretty rural part of San Diego. There were lot’s of canyons and places to explore. From as far back as I can remember, I was very into nature and collected bugs, butterflies and various animals either alive or dead. In addition to collecting things, I also liked to make things. I can remember creating intricate little scotch tape designs all over the kitchen floor, I would string my room together creating pseudo spiderwebs and I tagged every piece of furniture in the house. God bless my parents- they just let me create, they even put wood panels up in my room so I could write and draw all over them, probably hoping it would curb my desire to tag the house and bring home dead animals. So it would seem the compulsion to make things was in me from the gate. Well unfortunately around 12 I got into other things and that passion fell away. I still liked to draw and such, but let’s just say I liked other things more and would draw the same shape over and over and over and over…
Jump forward to 1989, I barely graduated from High School, but due to affirmative action went straight to SDSU as a Graphic Design Major. One year later I was asked to leave as I had a .91 grade point average, as stated I had other things that took precedence in my life. In the summer of 1992, I was 21 and fresh out of rehab and living in a sober living house in El Cajon CA and I decided to go back to school. I took a beginning drawing class at Grossmont Community College and as we worked on a basic still life, a teddy bear, soccer ball with a box and a cylinder, my teacher came up to me and was stunned by what he saw. He stated to me that I had real talent and I should pursue my art. In retrospect, I now know that teacher saved my life as it was the first time I had heard anyone say I had skills. Needless to say, I took his advice and pursued school and my art with a vengeance and have been going strong ever since. My sobriety has been a rocky venture. I have had a few slips early on and fell into a few more bad situations revolving around domestic violence, but I feel strongly that my dedication and passion for art has given me the strength to keep pushing forward regardless.
A lot of your work has been grounded around the figure. Your newer work seems more landscape and abstract in nature, what are your hopes with this new body of work?
My use of the figure has driven me for many years. In my eyes they are tangible, identifiable, expressions of emotion and honesty I think to some degree they are habitual. I have never really understood theory and the systems in place that make up abstraction and I have great difficulty articulating the underlying meaning of works that don’t have some type of identifiable object in them. For me, art is very much a cathartic experience. I feel strongly that all artists are driven by the intuitive, it can be methodical representations, precise and exacting or energized and explosive, or a combination of energies.
With regards to my newer work taking on a more abstract tone, I am not sure what to say about this. I do know that there have been times in my career, like now, when the figures were not there, so to keep from going crazy I keep active by relying on direct observation. I love to paint, the feel of it, the freedom that comes with mark making, the frenetic energy involved, the void of mind when working. I think this new work is an exploration of a new life. Within this past year my divorce went final, I left my profession of 11 years and moved to Huntington Beach. One can say my life has had a complete overhaul, it’s exciting taking such a huge leap, so maybe my solution is turning to something stable, grounded so to speak. I have noticed there is a serious lag time in the events that take place and when they make it to the canvas. Maybe this newer work is a softer side of me.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Well I suppose that depends on the body of work. My figurative work has always inspired by books, stories, myths, and legends related to women and their journeys. Also, I frequent libraries and bookstores and just sit pulling books and magazines off the shelf taking in all the images. For the more abstract work, nature is the driving force, as well as the influence of such staunch abstract female artists rooted in nature such as Joan Mitchell and Joan Snyder. I am also very much a creature of habit. I have a certain routine that allows me to drift into that space where the mind shuts off. I am really sensory driven, tactile, kinesthetic and that active work of moving, walking, looking and dancing while I paint gets it going.
Do you have an ultimate goal for your art and your life?
My ultimate goal for my art currently would be to get it out there for people to see. To cause a reaction, speak my truth, whatever that truth may be. My ultimate goal for my life would be to use the gifts I was given to help women who have experienced trauma as well. My art has saved my life, and I know first hand the power behind making something meaningful to me. I have been given the gift of sobriety and have had the courage to walk away from some horrible situations it has helped me document, process, and let go of many issues that plague me related to rape, domestic violence and addiction.
How can people find your work? Where would we find you on social media?