THE BIG SELL and bracing slogan as well as the positive vibes of advertising promising ever sunnier and better tomorrows – these are all strung through Scott Patt’s work. It takes place in a word promising luck, with Pennsylvania Dutch hexes and the charms of rabbits’ feet not to mention a dash of nostalgia and irony.
He grew up in a religious home near Allentown, PA – torn between the dying steal town and the rural idyll of the Amish; both make appearances in his art. In his life he’s been a missionary, body builder and designer of footwear for Nike and Converse. With its post-pop lure, his art is pulled between these poles, between the lure of marketing and its relentless optimism, plus the need to believe that born-again culture promises, even when Scott is no longer born again himself. Add to that the fight to change and control your body of a body builder. “My life,” Scott says, “has been centered around the consumer and consumption. I am fascinated by the relationship and at the same time the way pop art recontextualizes and challenges both object and message.” The need to find meaning in things, that search for clues and messages is also at the heart of his work. “Being raised in such a deeply religious environment and being a former born again Christian, it’s engrained in me to find meaning in things.”
Inspired by the ad slogans of his youth, his series “Stays Crunchy in Milk” calls up a kind of Proustian yearning. Now his work is fueled by longing – and the very nature of hope in a post-industrial world, where in a recession so many people still depend on fate.
Gumball, a show of Patt’s work is up now at 212 Gallery in Aspen, CO through October 1st.
Here’s Scott himself:
Growing up in rural Pennsylvania I was attracted to the folk symbology, hand crafted advertising and products of local markets and fairs. This enchantment with object, message and meaning continued into my adult life as I worked with companies like Nike. Now I continue to work with iconic symbols, objects and concepts that have a rooted power, meaning and often nostalgia in popular culture from advertising to cartoons and cultural symbols. They’re all transposed, tweaked and twisted to expose new meanings.
Rabbit with Foot and the Good Luck Hexes were created as twists on traditional symbols of luck into modern talismans to hope, sacrifice and fate. You Are The One is an homage to the ever-present encouraging crafted needlepoints and lacquered folk proverbs that hung around my house as a child.