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Artist feature from UICA: Patrick Ethen

Patrick Ethen is a Detroit artist whose work is an exploration of light, motion, color, and pattern. Ethen's works will be on view at UICA as part of Color of the Year Presented by Pantone and X-Rite Apr 6 – Jul 29, 2018.
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Color of the Year Presented by Pantone and X-Rite April 6 - July 29

Color of the Year is a group exhibition of original art works each utilizing the 2018 PANTONE® Color of the Year, 18-3838 Ultra Violet, as a major component of execution or as a point of departure. 

Patrick Ethan in his Detroit Studio

Patrick Ethan in his Detroit Studio /Courtesy of UICA

Art by Patrick Ethan

Art by Patrick Ethan /Courtesy of UICA

Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts invites you to learn more about West Michigan's creative workforce, neighboring cultural organizations, and about ways to engage with Grand Rapids' art-scene with interviews and guest features highlighting our local and regional community members. Visit uica.org/learn for monthly interviews.Give us a short bio.

Patrick Ethen. I’m a light artist. I live and work in Detroit.

How would you describe your work?

My personal practice is an exploration of the phenomenological effects of light, motion, color, and pattern. It’s a little difficult to explain because the work isn’t static. Quite literally, the pieces are glowing, generative systems which evolve and change with time. The goal is mesmerization, to create immersive, ethereal experiences that allow the viewer an opportunity to step outside themselves for a moment.

You’re exhibiting as part of Color of the Year Presented by Pantone and X-Rite. How were you inspired by Ultra Violet in the works you’ve created and/or was this a departure from how you typically work/your process?

UVA is a shifting menagerie of color gradients which pulse and blend, combining rigid geometric patterns with a soft, atmospheric glow. Most of the inspiration for UVA came from wondering, what might an artificial star look like.

I typically avoid using color in my pieces because, especially with LED art, it gets crystal-gripper Electric-Forest womp-step ravey really quickly."It helps to constrain the color palette- like, not everything needs to cycle through the entire color rainbow. The lights in UVA feature colors only found in the white spectrum.

If this way of working, being inspired by a single element, is a departure from your current process, is it a way of working that you think you’ll explore again?

Eh… no. My process is more like this: Make first, then figure out what it means. Meaning is generated de facto through the process of creation.

Do you have a piece of work which stands out in your mind as something you are exceptionally proud of or that is particularly important to you?

Yes. I made a piece in 2016 called Together, which I view as a turning point in my personal understanding of both the hardware and software sides of the equation.

Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?

I have to blame a lot of this on my architecture education- the philosophy, design skills, fabrication tools, and systems-based thinking has left a mark on my brain which I fear I won’t be able to shake for many years to come. I finished Infinite Jest last summer, and it totally reframed the way I think about the work and its relationship to the viewer. Last week I watched a video illustrating the process of DNA transcription and it shook me to the core.

What new projects do you have on the horizon?

I’m ready to have another solo show. I’ve been making new work for the past year and a half, occasionally previewing it for friends or showing it at an after-hours party, but otherwise keeping it hidden from the public. This one is going to be wild because the work is really big and immersive.

What are you passionate about besides your work?

I like to play soccer and ride bikes and dance and make music. Also I appear to have a strange affinity for sitting in windowless rooms and wiring lights until my fingers bleed.

Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?

I have to blame a lot of this on my architecture education- the philosophy, design skills, fabrication tools, and systems-based thinking has left a mark on my brain which I fear I won’t be able to shake for many years to come. I finished Infinite Jest last summer, and it totally reframed the way I think about the work and its relationship to the viewer. Last week I watched a video illustrating the process of DNA transcription and it shook me to the core.

What new projects do you have on the horizon?

I’m ready to have another solo show. I’ve been making new work for the past year and a half, occasionally previewing it for friends or showing it at an after-hours party, but otherwise keeping it hidden from the public. This one is going to be wild because the work is really big and immersive.

What are you passionate about besides your work?

I like to play soccer and ride bikes and dance and make music. Also I appear to have a strange affinity for sitting in windowless rooms and wiring lights until my fingers bleed.

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