Local Artists Worth Their Salt: Anne Patterson (by Sasha)

If you are here in Sarasota (or anywhere nearby) you should not miss the art installation by Anne Patterson that is presently on display at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.


Pathless Woods is a true sensory experience that is described as “swimming through color.”

The exhibit is composed of 8,500 silk ribbons that hang from ropes attached near the ceiling of the Monda Gallery and that cascade to just above the floor. Rather than stand outside of it looking in, viewers are invited to walk through these pathless woods and to be touched by the ribbons. Three other senses are invoked as well because this collaborative work includes music by composer Michael Gandolfi, light projections by Adam Larson, and a pine and fir scent by Beau Rhee (on Thursday evenings.)

At this week’s Conversation with the Artist, Anne Patterson spoke to the sold out audience about the intricate process of constructing the installation.

Far from being a casual gluing of ribbons to the ceiling, Patterson’s work is a painting with ribbons. This artwork was meticulously planned on several grids that charted the placement of each of the 1,000s of individual ribbons. Boxes of ribbon spools had to be cut to size,  baggies were then used to prevent the ribbons from tangling, each ribbon had to be attached to the diagonal ropes, and then, baggies were removed and the ribbons unfurled. It took 740 manual hours just to build the piece. (Kudos to the Florida State University student interns who did much of the work!)

I believe in the power of art to transform lives and bring peace into the world and beauty into the world–and you can’t underestimate the power of bringing beauty into the world. Anne Patterson

img_27881As Artist-in-Residence at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco in 2013, Patterson installed 20 miles of ribbon from the arches and heights of the Cathedral to form Graced With Light. For safety reasons, the ribbons stopped 16 feet above the floor. In contrast, the ribbons of Pathless Woods nearly brush the floor, allowing viewers to interact with them and with each other as they walk through the exhibit–and this has proved to be very popular with the school children who have visited.

Patterson’s work is influenced both by her training as a theater production designer, and synesthesia, a condition she has that allows her to see color when she hears music. She used what she calls “this gift” to listen to Michael Gandolfi’s Garden of Cosmic Speculation and to conceptualize the colors, mood, and shapes for Pathless Woods.

Interested in experiencing this for yourself? Be warned, the exhibit closes in early May 2017. Meanwhile, you can find it in the Monda Gallery (near the Center for Asian Art) of the Ringling Art Museum, 5401 Bay Shore Road (near Tamiami and University).



From the experiences of my two visits, you will want to look up; look down (incredible shadowed patterns!); spin; listen; feel; and just enjoy.

You can also view a video about the construction process and what it’s like to walk through the ribbons at https://www.ringling.org/events/pathless-woods



Patterson’s next project, Murmuration, will be in Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati, Ohio, opening at the end of April 2017. “Murmuration” is a word for when birds fly in large patterns. Instead of ribbons, her medium this time will be wire mesh. Below is a slide of the planned exhibit Patterson shared during her talk.





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