The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust presents the visual art exhibition Cataloguing Pattern, a collaborative meditation on the role of pattern in artistic practice. The exhibition is on view July 11–August 31, 2014, at SPACE. The exhibition is guest organized by Kristen Letts Kovak, an alumna of the MFAST Class of 2010. Cataloguing Pattern investigates the links between visual, perceptual, and cognitive patterning. It features more than 50 artworks by nine artists, including five alumni of the MFA in Studio Art program. Each artist chose one aspect of patterning to investigate: seriality, rhythm, rehearsal, behavior, permutation, morphology, expectation, and repetition.
Kovak’s exhibition explores the diverse role that patterning can play, noting that the process of creation often follows a pattern itself: intention, execution, and then resolution. Yet, even this pattern falls apart as the artists’ original intention inevitably shifts.
“We constantly break our own patterns as we investigate them more deeply and uncover our faulty assumptions,” says Kovak. “I wondered, if the cycle of establishing and breaking patterns is fundamental to the act of making art, wouldn’t it appear as an underlying theme in seemingly disparate artworks?”
Each artist—through differing aesthetics, media, and content—finds his or her own balance between ordered predictability and the irregular or unknown. As a group, the artists demonstrate that breaking a predicted pattern is more significant than establishing one, and they use pattern to reveal what is otherwise hidden.
Salinda Deery transcribes the repetitive motions of factory labor into abstract paintings. She treats her large canvases like an assembly line, repeating her marks as she walks alongside the surface. The resulting paintings resonate with the history of her movements and call attention to the interruptions in her routine. She resides in Elkhart, MD.
Aaron Henderson and Ted Coffey collaborate on a series of kaleidoscopic videos. Beginning with documentation of military drills and shopping riots, they transform repeated acts of aggression into morphing visual and auditory patterns. Their work vacillates between representation and abstraction, and chaos and order. Henderson resides in Pittsburgh, PA, and Ted Coffey lives in Charlottesville, VA.
Kristin Kest is an illustrator and storyteller. Her drawings bring to light the role of gender and class often underlying the stories we tell. While set within the context of imagination and fantasy, her characters are heroic because of their humanness—articulating moments of boldness, tenderness, and physical labor. She resides in York, PA.
Todd Keyser investigates the relationship between the mass-produced and handmade image. Working on top of digitally printed photographs, he meticulously paints color striations onto their surfaces. His marks mimic both the underlying geometry and the hidden digital pixilation. Keyser resides in Pittsburgh, PA.
Kristen Letts Kovak integrates historically and culturally unrelated patterns into singular images. By imposing patterns onto an unfamiliar context, she interrupts the established design and creates new visual alliterations. The resulting paintings continuously slide between tangents and a larger superstructure. She resides in Pittsburgh, PA.
Maria Mangano creates mixed media and installation artworks that investigate taxonomy and ecology. She uses the repeated nature of printmaking to study visual and behavioral links between species. Her delicate pieces shed light on the fragile web of nature’s interaction in an urban environment. Mangano resides in Pittsburgh, PA.
Brooke Sturtevant-Sealover studies the lives of individual plants. She intricately charts each plant’s daily movements and growth patterns. Her marks are, in essence, chosen by the plants, but the method of recording is determined by the artist. The layers of collected data and live specimens become both a scientific record and a launching pad for aesthetic investigations. She resides in York, PA.
Rebecca Zilinski’s ink drawings map cognitive and behavioral responses. Her work is quiet and meditative, revealing its intricacies over time. While at a macro level she is articulating a predictable pattern, closer investigation reveals the unpredictable behavior of her media. Zilinski resides in Poughkeepsie, NY.