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An Interview with Visiting Artist Crowell A. Pate IV

Our Visiting Artist Crowell Alex Pate IV wraps up his year-long residency at the Gibbes this week. We chatted with him to look back at some of his favorite experiences during his time here, and to find out what he has on the horizon. The College of Charleston partnership for our Visiting Artist program will continue in the fall with painter Yvette Dede. We are excited to be able to provide public studio space for CofC professors and in turn, enrich our visitors’ experiences with the opportunity to engage with artists at work. A big thanks to Alex! We’ll look forward to keeping tabs on your future projects!

First, tell us a little bit about you. Where are you from? How did you get involved in visual arts?
I grew up in the small town of Fort Payne in northeast Alabama. It is a small enough town that imagination and creativity are necessary to fill your day as a child. Much of my time was spent exploring the nature, building forts, and playing outside with my friends. I believe that translates into my work as well. Making art in the traditional sense was something I did for as far back as I can remember. As a child I was always trying to replicate cartoon characters, I was interested in, creating new characters and creatures for my stories, and decorating my room with works to create art galleries. Although I didn’t consider it at the time, my constant construction of structures and building with the scraps of wood my parents left from their projects is a base for my interest in creating three-dimensional works.

Defense, 2015, by Crowell A. Pate IV;

Defense, 2015, by Crowell A. Pate IV; Poplar, 18 x 17 x 17 in.; Courtesy of the artist.

What have you enjoyed most about being a visiting artist at the Gibbes?
The most enjoyable part of being a visiting artist at the Gibbes would have to be the interaction with the public. As an artist I often find myself closed off from others, especially the general public. Being at the Gibbes has provided me with feedback and insight from those I would often not interact with or have viewed my work. Being in a museum setting, you often find people who might not be as inclined to go to a traditional gallery or private exhibitions. This opportunity has allowed me to show my work and explain my process to a much broader audience.

Working in the studio at the Gibbes Museum.

At work in the studio at the Gibbes Museum.

You are the inaugural College of Charleston Visiting Artist with the Gibbes. How has this experience been for you and what does it entail?
The experience has been great. Much of that has come from what I mentioned before, the interaction with the public. Also, the studio itself has pushed me into new directions with my work. The space is different than anywhere I have worked in the past. The clean, pristine walls, the quiet of the museum, and the newness of the recent remodel is in high contrast to the often dirty, loud, and aged shops I often find myself creating my work.

I found my position here to mainly entail interaction with museum guests, as well as taking time for experimentation with materials and ideas. There were also many discussions with docents and staff explaining my process and many of my works.

Sculptor Thomas Schomberg

Sculptor Thomas Schomberg spoke at the Gibbes Museum of Art in February 2017.

What has been your favorite or most memorable experience this year?
The most memorable experiences I have had would have to be a tie between a studio visit I had with sculptor Thomas Schomberg and getting to meet one of my all time favorite artists, Patrick Dougherty. Thomas was a joy to speak with and offered some great feedback on my work. I believe if it hadn’t been for a prior dinner commitment, he would have stayed for hours. In meeting with Patrick, I was very excited, as he has been an inspiration to my way of working. His connection to the materials he uses and his willingness to let them direct him is something I strive to do in my work.

Visiting Artist Patrick Dougherty and son/assistant Sam Dougherty

Visiting Artist Patrick Dougherty and son/assistant Sam Dougherty stand in front of Betwixt and Between, a site-specific installation at the Gibbes.

What’s next for you?
My immediate plans will be continuing to teach sculpture at the College of Charleston. I have the opportunity to teach a course that I have written, New Technologies in Sculpture, and am excited about sharing this new course with the college. I will also, be continuing my art practice as well. I have an extensive list of works that I want to create. Some of these are for RFPs in which I am interested in and others I just feel I need to create. My time at the Gibbes has allowed for a lot of material and idea exploration that has sparked many new ideas and also allowed for the renunciation of others.

Visiting Artist Alex Pate

Visiting Artist Alex Pate at the opening reception and book signing for Patrick Dougherty’s installation, Betwixt and Between.

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