Jason Patterson, local artist, exhibit stories from News-Gazette

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Jason Patterson, local artist, exhibit stories from News-Gazette


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Studio Visit: Jason Patterson, 24, of Urbana
Sun, 09/20/2009 - 6:22am | Melissa Merli
Photo by: Robert K. O'Daniell

Jason Patterson with his gallery show at Amara Yoga & Arts in Urbana.

Q: I was surprised to hear that Gerhard Richter (German, born 1932) is one of your favorite artists, as you're so young. Why?

A: I think I'm pretty conservative in what I do as an artist, and I think he is, too. He paints like a machine. My favorite thing is to do something traditional but with really contemporary ideas.

Q: How does this show (at Amara Yoga & Arts, Urbana) reflect that?

A: As far as technique goes, I try to use charcoal and pastel in new ways. For example, in these paintings, I use charcoal and white pastel on unprimed canvas and then seal it with a fixative and then varnish it with a polymer-based glaze or gel. I try to use the materials in a different way but the images are derivative. The images look traditional or simple.

Q: I noticed your work on your Web site is different than your work here.

A: The stuff on the Web site is old, and I was not as focused then. Now I try to work in series. I was telling my boss a few weeks ago (at the Art Coop) that I wish there were 50 hours in a day because I want to do everything. This is all I do. I try to paint 70 hours a week. I'm either at the Art Coop or painting.

One of my favorite painters is Don Pollock, who teaches at the School of the Art Institute. He did a Lincoln series based on old photographs – some portraits and some landscapes. He did a huge series of 30 paintings.

Q: What kind of series are you working on now?

A: I'm going to work on this civil rights/slave series until I think it's done. I took old pictures of slaves and pixelated them and changed the colors. I pixelated them to make them anonymous. If you're a slave, you have no name. I think when I finish this series, it will be the only black culture/civil rights work I'll do.

Q: What other themes interest you?

A: With my themes and ideas I try to stay as contemporary as possible. For my next series, I want to do paintings of scrambled Internet videos so they look like abstract paintings, but they're not really abstract. I think more and more people are watching things on the Internet.

Q: When did you start making art?

A: As soon as I was old enough to pick up a pencil. When I moved out of my parents' house, I made really big drawings of Michael Jordan, comic-book heroes and the Chief (Illiniwek), which makes me cringe a little now. When I was a kid, I was like the pro-Chief people, thinking he was more than a mascot. I actually went on to make one piece stating just the opposite.

Q: You grew up in Champaign, right?

A: Yes, I graduated from Champaign Central in 2003. I took art classes at Parkland College, but I guess my high school education is my only degree.

Q: With whom did you study at Parkland?

A: The biggest influences there were Matthew Watt, Joan Stolz and Stephen Hudson.

Q: Did you win any awards at Parkland?

A: The Art Coop award. That was before I started working there.

Q: Do you plan to get a degree in art?

A: I don't know. I'm sure if I went to a big school it would make me better, but it wouldn't make me better enough to spend 100 grand. I'm really happy with the way I do my work now, so it's really hard to think of a reason to go to school right now.

Q: How long will your show ("Phases of Construction," also featuring work by Barbara F. Miller) be here at Amara?

A: Probably a month, through mid-October. In February, these pieces will probably be at the Indi Go gallery in Champaign. I'm just going to put all these and anything new I do there. These pieces are part of my civil rights series, and I'll probably do 48 pieces altogether in that.


Urbana artist raising money to assist Don Moyer Club
Tue, 02/02/2010 - 11:28am | Melissa Merli
Photo by: Robert K. O'Daniell

Jason Patterson displays some of the pieces from the Civil Rights Project at Amara Yoga & Arts in Urbana. His work will be on display this weekend at the Indi Go Gallery in Champaign.

CHAMPAIGN – Artist Jason Patterson, who is biracial, says he has encountered in his life only two minor incidents of racism or prejudice.

One happened when he was young. "I actually didn't notice it; my parents did," he said. The other time came in high school, when a friend called Patterson an "Oreo."

"He didn't know it was derogatory," he said. "He thought it was funny. But a teacher heard it and told him it was racist and inappropriate. The kid cried and apologized over and over."

Patterson, a 2003 graduate of Champaign Central High School, credits his "comfortable" life to the civil rights movement that got under way well before he was born.

In tribute to it, he began creating a series of charcoal drawings in 2008 that he calls the Civil Rights Project.

This past fall, he showed some of the works from the series at Amara Yoga & Arts in Urbana. This weekend, he will show those plus newer Civil Rights Project pieces at Indi Go Gallery as a fundraiser for the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club in Champaign.

Patterson, who studied art at Parkland College, created his black-and-white drawings, which he covered with an acrylic glaze, from video stills he grabbed from the Internet. They depict people and scenes from the movement.

"A lot of people in the '50s and '60s would have seen these on their televisions," he said.

Patterson, who lives in Urbana, said it was James Barham's idea to make the "Civil Rights Project" at Indi Go a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club. Already, Barham, who founded Indi Go Gallery as an artist cooperative, has raised $2,500 from sponsors. Patterson plans to give the Boys and Girls Club half of the proceeds from each drawing he sells. The works range from $500 to $2,500, with a large one priced at $5,000.

The opening reception at Indi Go, 9 E. University Ave., C, will be from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday. The works will remain on view through Feb. 21, with events at the gallery on Feb. 12 and 19. For more information, visit online www.indi-go-art.com.

The show is sponsored by both Champaign's and Urbana's Office of Human Relations; the University of Illinois Department of Public Engagement; The Downey Group Inc.; Fox Development Corp.; KEC Design; Ramshaw Real Estate; Bank Champaign N.A.; and Barham Benefit Group.


Noah Lenstra


Noah Lenstra

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Noah Lenstra, "Jason Patterson, local artist, exhibit stories from News-Gazette," in eBlack Champaign-Urbana, Item #92, https://eblackcu.net/portal/items/show/92 (accessed September 22, 2023).

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