Meryl Pataky has a style all her own. Working in neon, steel, precious metals, and handmade paper, this conceptual artist draws upon life experiences to create thought provoking sculptures that questions the nature of existence. The end result is a personal narrative that is at once brazen and delicate. As one of the participating artists in the upcoming 'Word Play' exhibit at Design Matters Gallery, I had a chance to chat with the unique San Francisco artist. Here she talks about the inspiration behind her work, how growing up in South Florida helped her as an artist, and the genius of Robert Rauschenberg.
You’re originally from South Florida - an area known for its sandy beaches as well as being heavily saturated with Hispanic culture. What was life like growing up in the sunshine state and how did it nurture your creative talent?
I think all Florida did for my creativity was make me a loonie. It helps.
Your work is very conceptual as it plays with the delicacy of language and communication. Tell us about your process from conception to completion.
The pieces that I believe to be successful are those whose concepts and phrasings just kind of come to me. Call it that quintessential image of a light bulb above my head. I think about any other material elements that could be added to the work to re-enforce the idea and add to its aesthetic. Then, I procrastinate a whole bunch. Then I make it.
One of your neon sculptures for “Word Play” is a playful take on the game of affection known as ‘He loves me, he loves me not’. What was the inspiration behind this work? And why are you drawn to working with neon?
I was going through a thing with a person that left me very confused and this "game" and the idea for the work just immediately sprung into my head. I had to make it. Most of my work is a personal narrative. I'm inspired by people, experiences and situations that shape my being. There are more than a couple of people out there that I've made work about (a situation, something they've said) and they know it, too.
My facination with neon came from the challenge that its process poses and wanted to get on top of it. I'm constantly learning something new all the time. Also the science behind it - it makes me feel like a wizard, kind of.
If you could hang one artwork from art history in your home or studio, what would it be and why?
Robert Rauschenberg's "Erased de Kooning". That fool bought a de Kooning drawing from the artist himself in a cafe/bar, erased the whole thing, and showed it as his own artwork. It was a time when Rauschenberg was emerging and de Kooning was more established. It's genious.
What’s a day in the life of Meryl Pataky like?
Biking riding, bending, beer.
*images via the artist