Patricia Boinest Potter
Patterns of Place

January 24 - March 7, 2015

Patricia Boinest Potter creates enigmatic artworks in the form of three-dimensional maps that she refers to as Isomorphic Map Tables and 1:1 Map Insets. Ostensibly representing a one-hundred-mile stretch of northern Alabama, these works also expand outward to the cosmos, then inward again into the dark energy of particle physics. The exhibition will include a series of six Map Tables and one hundred 1:1 Map Insets. The show offers a tantalizing mix of technical experimentation, metaphoric expansiveness, and curiosity in every square inch. Curated by Mark Sloan, director and chief curator of the Halsey Institute, the exhibition will also feature a video about the artist and a 120-page color catalogue. The exhibition will travel for several years throughout the United States after it debuts in Charleston.

Potter’s formal language is largely abstract, yet the resulting imagery defies categorization into any existing canon of art history. Joseph Cornell’s precious boxes offer the closest shorthand comparison, but the Isomorphic Map Tables and 1:1 Map Insets contains seeds for different ways of knowing—new systems for apprehending the world. At once philosophical and scientific, Potter’s art provides viewers with a new set of lenses through which to see, grasp, and, ultimately, comprehend.

Charleston, South Carolina born, and longtime resident of Anniston, Alabama, Potter has developed her own art-making techniques in relative isolation, informed by her extensive background in architecture. Through the development of these idiosyncratic techniques, she has found ways to give unique expression to the ideas that animate her. Because her work does not look like any other art that has been made before, it may prove a bit difficult to comprehend upon first viewing. It is only through sustained engagement with these poetic enclosures that the mind adjusts to the rhythms and textures presented within, and suggested without.

The artist says that the inception of this series came after studying the murmuration of starlings, one of nature’s most spectacular celestial visual displays. Mimicking the movements of its closest neighbors, each bird in the flock responds to microchanges in speed or direction. Thus, one bird’s movement amplifies and distorts the movement of all of those around it, demonstrating chaos theory—larger patterns created by infinitely varied smaller patterns. In Potter’s words:

“While looking for patterns of movement, I found the murmuration of starlings and a peloton of racing bikers to have similar flocking patterns. It is this pattern of energy that each table maps. The movement is from three dimensions to multidimensions.”

Taking this phenomenon as the central metaphor, Potter infuses these works with a vacillation between inner and outer worlds—micro to macro—a mental Möbius. Her fascination with time, maps, and illusion put her in camp with Borges, Calvino, and other fabulists, but her quarry is human perception itself.

The delicacy and meticulous preplanning involved in the making of the Isomorphic Map Tables and 1:1 Map Insets gives us a portrait of an artist concerned as much with process as with the mapping of patterns large and small. That she involves other artists and specialists in the realization of her vision indicates that she is a perfectionist with an unquenchable desire for precision of expression. Potter invites us to ponder these fundamental existential questions as we marvel at her cosmic, yet local, cartographies. Patterns of Place offers an extended disquisition into the nature and limits of human knowledge, and our place within the larger murmurations.



Patricia Boinest Potter
Patterns of Place

Patricia Boinest Potter was born in Charleston, SC and currently resides in Anniston, Alabama. She completed her Bachelors degree from from the Atlanta College of Art (now SCAD Atlanta) and received a Master’s degree in architecture from the University of Art and Design, Helsinki, Finland. Potter has been a Visiting Professor of Architecture at Auburn University, Iowa State University, and Jacksonville State University. Her works have been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world, including Paris, France; Richmond, Virginia; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Newton, Massachusetts; and New Orleans, Louisiana, to name a few.

The exhibition will travel for several years throughout the United States after it debuts in Charleston. This project is funded in part by the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and a long list of generous individuals. Special thanks to our media partner Charleston Magazine.

Community Partners 2017