Artist Statement - Plant Collaboration Devices and Psychic Corporeal Maps
In March 2020, as we went into lockdown, a native plant identification project I was originally developing to span all of New York City was quickly honed down to All Faiths Cemetery near my home and studio in Ridgewood, NY. The cemetery runs through the center of Queens at its highest point, a vast and varied landscape connecting the neighborhoods of Glendale, Maspeth, and Middle Village. It was built in the early 19th Century as a working class Christian cemetery on hilly land considered not suitable for farming. Millennia before that, it was land cultivated by the Munsee Lenape and Canarsie Tribes. It is loosely managed and has inadvertently become an ecological sanctuary for native plants, insects, birds and small mammals. Its uniqueness lies in the marked contrast between the vibrant proliferation of plant life and the stillness of the weathered memorials, the oldest of which date back to the founding of the cemetery.
As the project has become focused on the cemetery, it has become stranger and more speculative. Thinking with disparate research threads, that of human burial rituals, Actor Network Theory, and chemical plant communication; it is easy to consider the possible likelihood of human DNA being present in these native plants. (?) Using nonhuman participatory research methods, I have been collecting seeds from native plants growing throughout the burial ground, and considering the plants capabilities as actants in the environment. I am currently awaiting spring, at which time the plants will be able to be germinated and grown in the studio to be my collaborators. We will work together developing “Devices for Thinking with Plants,” proposals for new monuments that de-emphasize an aesthetic of distanced visuality and instead work towards developing new ways of feeling and being-with.
Because my practice has now become seasonal, and dependent on place, growing conditions, and plant timelines, I’m whiling away the winter months here in Queens waiting for my collaborators to grow. I’m using this time to make psychic, corporeal maps of the cemetery, thinking about the indigenous feminist idea of “body territory,” that where a community buries its dead is an extension of our bodies and also our ultimate home-place. I think of these maps as showing three different states of All Faiths, much in the way that Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights shows three different states of Earth – heaven, earth, and hell.
Patte Loper is an interdisciplinary artist based in painting who experiments with sculpture and video to explore a range of subject matter including feminist utopianism, new materialism, and the ecological imaginary. She was born in Colorado and grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, a subtropical college town where she first developed an appreciation for the ways nature and culture can overlap. She currently lives and works in New York City and Boston, MA where she is on the faculty of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University.
Her practice began exclusively with conceptually based figurative painting and the work morphed over time into an experimental practice that utilizes painting, drawing, video, installation, and performance. Her early work involved re-creating masterworks with an eye towards feminist re-interpretation. Deeply rooted in painting’s discourse, her current practice uses painterly logic to create three dimensional structures that evoke landscape and still life and link early and midcentury formalism, architectural theory, and utopian idealism. Recent exhibitions have considered the ethics of architecture, the relationship between social justice and climate change, sustainable energy technology, and intersectionality in Arab and Western identity.
She has shown her work in numerous solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including the Drawing Center (New York, NY), the Mattress Factory (Pittsburgh, PA), the Children's Museum of Manhattan (New York, NY), the Bronx Museum (Bronx, NY), the Licini Museum (Ascoli Piceno, Italy), LMCC's Art Center on Governor's Island (New York, NY), the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences (Charleston, WV), the PalaentologicalMuseum (Cortina, Italy), the Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma, WA), Suyama Space (Seattle, WA), and the Zuckerman Museum (Atlanta, GA). Her work has been reviewed in the Italian edition of Flash Art, Artnet, Time Out, Chicago, and the Boston Globe, and is in the collections of the Rene di Rosa Foundation, the Microsoft Corporation, and the Hirshhorn Museum.