Smile Politely

WorkSpace: Jason Patterson

Art form: Paint.

Influences: Gerhard Richter and Don Pollack

WorkSpace:  He adapted a studio inside of the Art-Coop.

Recommended movie: Road To Perdition.

Favorite spot in C-U: His studio and the Blind Pig

Thoughts on art scene in C-U: “I think for not being a big city, we are pretty lucky.”

Where to see his work: At and his Instagram. Some shows coming soon.

Jason Patterson lives and makes artwork in Champaign-Urbana. His work predominately deals with African American history. Patterson employs portraiture to chronicle the people, periods and cultural significance, of the African American presence in the United States from 1619 to the present. He re-creates significant images with an original utilization of soft pastel. These works not only represent the people they depict but also the visual media of which the original image was created. His work makes reference to the cultural and historical importance of, photographs, film, and video and the technological tools we use to represent our culture — the means we use to visually organize and archive our existence.

Smile Politely: When and how did you decide to become an artist?

Patterson: Ever since I was old enough to hold a pencil I’ve drawn, and that’s still what I do. So outside of briefly wanting to be the starting 1st basemen of the Cubs when I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to be an artist.

SP:What or who are your influences?

Patterson: Artistically my biggest influences, or the ones that have, I think, shaped me the most are: German painter Gerhard Richter and Chicago painter(and UIUC grad) Don Pollack. As far as any other significant influences, I would say it would be the group of Engineers I use to live with. Their work ethic and style of problem solving was massively influential and I apply it every day in the studio. And I really don’t know what I would do without the advice and help from the designers, engineers, artist and other fabricators, in town and across the world, that I’ve gotten advice or help from.

SP: Who would you like to collaborate with and why?

Patterson: My work is really singular in conceptualizing, so I basically work alone. That said when there is a part of my work I can’t do, or need to bounce ideas off other brains, I really enjoy interacting with other. Especially when it comes to design or fabrication. One of my old engineering roommates and good friends, Ben Barnes, has helped me design and build things. I’ve learned a ton from him. 

SP: Tell us about your workspace.

Patterson: I got my studio when Art, inc.(my day job) moved to Lincoln Square mall in Urbana. The space wasn’t needed and I’ve got the best bosses in the world, so they said it was mine of I built it out. This place is really my home more than my house. I am in my studio more than I am anywhere else, It does truly feels like home. I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

SP: Choose a piece of your artwork and explain it in detail

Patterson: The work that’s on my mind the most right now is actually one of the projects I am working on now. It’s working title is ‘On The Superhumanization Of African Americans 25 Years After The Beating Of Rodney King.’ It centers around a 1992 Washington Post article that quotes the opinions of defense attorneys of the officers that beat Rodney King and a juror. They’re quite disturbing examples of the “super-humanization” of African Americans that was described in a 2014 scientific study. I worked on this during 2016 8 to Create at Co-Lab in Urbana and you can best follow my progress on it through my social media posts, especially the Twitter thread I set up for it.

SP: What movie would you recommend to watch and why?

Patterson: Road To Perdition. It’s probably my favorite movie, visually. That or Blade Runner. Road To Perdition was the last film done by the amazing cinematographer Conrad Hall, before his death. It stars Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Daniel Craig — all playing characters way against type. Also, Thomas Newman’s score is amazing.

SP: What is your favorite spot in C-U?

Patterson: Really my favorite place it´s my studio. But I do love both Blind Pigs. They’re really, to me, the best places to get a pint and talk with friends.

SP: What do you think about the art scene in C-U?

Patterson: I think for not being a big city, we are pretty lucky. If you are willing to work hard, there is always reasonable opportunities for artists. And, I think whole lot of that is do to the work Kelly White and Amanda Baker do at 40North.

SP: Where, when and how can we see your work?

Patterson: I have some things into works, but are too new to announce just yet. But, I’m always updating studio progress on social media. So a great way to see what I am doing and hear about upcoming shows is online. I am also showing new work at Eureka College this fall. 

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