Interview with instructor and artist Patrick J. Reed

Meet the new member of our team:

Patrick and his work

Yesterday I had the chance to meet the artist and writer Patrick J. Reed. We sat at the Prachtwerk Cafe and took the time to chat about a bunch of topics, ranging from his political ideas and points of view to his studio and academical practices, and his plans for the upcoming drawing and painting workshops at the Berlin Drawing Room, where he just became part of the team.

Here’s a glimpse of some of the things we talked about:   

Although your body of work is completely multifaceted, it has a clear focus on cultural responses to ecological crises. What triggered you to fight the environmental fight, and how did you begin working on those topics?
I’ve always had an interest in this sort of cultural phenomena that is the apocalypse narrative – I find it fascinating. But the danger in being interested in that kind of narrative is that it can be very easily romanticized. It’s a horrible thing that can be made beautiful and is therefore not taken seriously. So as a remedy to that I shifted my focus to something that was more scientific, more tangible. This occurred when I was at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich, surrounded by environmental historians, eco-critics, scientists, and lawyers who exposed me to all this other information that was tightly linked to the themes I was working with, but approached from very different perspectives. That created a more well- rounded vision of what it means for the world to be in ecological crisis, and how cultures and societies rely on science, law, and technology to essentially cope with this crisis.
from: Distant hammers, graphite, coloured pencil, oil paint, collage on handmade paper, 2015-2016, approximately 40 x 27.5 inches

You’re also part of the editorial branch for the critical online publication Serpentine Magazine; tell us a bit more about that project. 

Serpentine Magazine was started by four graduates from the Visual and Critical Studies program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and I became involved early on when they had a change in their editorial team. It is essentially a venue for critical and creative writing presented in many possible formats. Being an online magazine gives us the ability to work in a variety of media: there can be experimental poetic and image based works, video… we also did a sound issue, at one point.

I enjoy having a chance to work with such a variety of writers, artists, and musicians to explore a certain topic; it gives me the opportunity to look at a certain thing from plenty of different angles.

from: Distant hammers, graphite, coloured pencil, oil paint, collage on handmade paper, 2015-2016, approximately 40 x 27.5 inches

What is it you’re looking forward to the most in teaching the drawing and painting workshops at the BDR?

I’m really looking forward to getting started, and I’m excited to be part of the team. I really love teaching drawing and painting, so what I want to do as a new instructor is to uphold all of the ideas of my work and everything that Mira has put into it, work in my ways within the general approach of the Berlin Drawing Room; teaching the skills whilst supplementing that with a couple of things that might be an interesting perspective or point of view (in drawing, for instance, explaining how to handle foreshortening, or deal with proportions, etc.).

Tell us a bit about the structure and plan for the courses

So for now there’s the Drawing Workshop and the Painting Workshop coming up, and I am hoping for the summer to teach a workshop that is actually focused on artist books, so that would concentrate on bookbinding and some content generating.

The idea is that through these workshops people get not only a grasp of a solid skill set, but also a general notion on what painting is, what drawing is, what their roles have been historically and why they are still important today.

It’d be great if someone were to take both painting and drawing courses, because that way they’d really get a thorough survey on how they build into each other. Even if that’s not the case, the workshops will remain a comfortable starting point for everyone.

from: Distant hammers, graphite, coloured pencil, oil paint, collage on handmade paper, 2015-2016, approximately 40 x 27.5 inches

Patrick is an artist and freelance writer originally from Iowa City, Iowa. His work explores the aesthetics of disaster, with a emphasis on cultural responses to ecological crises. In 2014, he joined the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society as a Fulbright Scholar and inaugural artist-in-residence. He continued with the Center the following year with a DAAD award for fine art. He is trained in art history, photojournalism, printmaking, and papermaking and has worked extensively in the fields of intermedia and experimental research. His current projects include an investigation of agricultural scarcity and the spectrality of food in early Modern German woodcuts and a translation of the Book of Job into the International Code of Signals. He lives and works in Berlin, where he is the European editorial branch for the critical/ cultural online publication, Serpentine Magazine.

Interview by Cora Marin

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