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Student artist aims to celebrate transition through abstraction


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Grand Blanc senior Bailey Patterson discusses her capstone artwork at the University Art Gallery on Saturday, Nov. 23.

For sculptor and print-maker Bailey Patterson, inspiration can be best achieved by observing nature's simplicities, like rings on a tree stump, wildflowers decaying after sunset and a colony of honeybees aiming to exist as an unbreakable unit. 

As attendees entered the University Art Gallery to visit the Essence: Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Applied Arts in Art exhibition, they were greeted by Patterson's 80-plus hours worth of wood-and-metal collisions and abstract interpretations of birth and decomposition. 

Patterson, a Grand Blanc senior pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, provided her pieces to the Department of Art and Design's showcase in order to fulfill the program's capstone requirement. 

She said her experiences with printmaking have enlightened her with the power of color, line and shape, as well as an understanding of the variation available to these constructions. By experimenting and producing abstract narratives of birth, growth and decomposition, Patterson said she is able to express change as a beautiful occurrence. 

"I wouldn't necessarily say (my work) is on mortality, (but instead) centered on the transition and change we go throughout our life," she said. "My work is constantly and always changing. You're seeing different elements, but you're also seeing these elements coming together and a connection throughout all of them." 

As viewers examine and hopefully anatomize Patterson's framed interpretations of sprouting butterfly wings and a flower waning as the moon elevates, she said she pines for them to seek out the "why" and "what" of her creativity. 

"I feel like if people are leaving happy or confused or excited that's a good thing. There's never a right or wrong answer to what a piece of art is or how it's supposed to make you feel," she said. 

Her love for art and enthusiasm for nonrepresentational and nonrealistic techniques ultimately submit to the flexibility of what a masterpiece can mean and stand for. She said while her artistic devices aspire to stimulate excitement, she hopes even more for them to disrupt one's train of thought and to make the brain wander. 

"That's why I love art. Nothing is set in stone. People see things other than what I'm seeing visually so it's all more open to interpretation," she said. 

While seeking a creative foundation, Patterson retreats to meditation, staring out the window and resting alongside the Chippewa River in Mount Pleasant. 

She said as she yearns to be both fully encapsulated by and to replicate the nature around her, she empathizes with insects to serve as the backbone to her artistry. 

"They're kind of like mini-humans in a way," she said, explaining she finds beauty in their individual qualities and characteristics similar to how diverse human culture is. 

The piece she said she is most intimately connected to illustrates the 21-day lifestyle of a bee, as it is born into a hive and taught to evolve into a collaborating member of a hive.

"I definitely learned to be apart of that. Coming into this, I was very one-minded and one-headed with an I'm-going-to-do-everything-myself mindset," she said. "In the end, I found myself stepping out of my comfort zone, explaining more about myself and putting more of myself into my artwork than (just) settling for the physical moment." 

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About Samantha Shriber

Samantha Shriber is a staff reporter at Central Michigan Life and is a Saint Clair Shores ...

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