622 Warren Street
Hudson, NY. 12534

Tel.  518.828.1915

Open Daily
11 am to 5 pm

Lisa Frank

 “The Pattern that Connects”

A theorist of evolution, Gregory Bateson, writes about pattern: “What pattern connects the crab to the lobster and the orchid to the primrose and all the four of them to me? And me to you? And all the six of us to the amoeba in one direction and to the backward schizophrenic in another?”

I make large scale photographs that depict complex patterns. These patterns are composed from elements of nature and are presented in the form of traditional wallpaper designs. Densely ornamental, my artwork draws upon my own background as a textile designer as well as the interior decoration documents of Britain’s Aesthetic Movement of the late 19th century. The designer, William Morris, is particularly relevant for the ways his design work drew upon similarly themed subject matter, showing an understanding and love for all natural things and designing with an assurance gained from observing nature first hand.

Bearing witness to haphazard wonders, the activity of taking pictures as I walk in the woods makes for a visual diary – it illuminates my position within the natural world while documenting changing evidence of the ordinary and the astonishing. The inter-relationships between all of nature’s corresponding parts creates the true “pattern” of my work. Season after season I trace nature’s comforting repetition. The resulting subject matter for my photos changes with the calendar taking notice of icicles one week and morels just a few weeks later.  All things are equal: I am as captivated by the full and magnificent bloom of autumn color as I am to the existential terror implicit in its fade and decay. My pattern-making forms a personal, arbitrary, asymmetrical time chart that is deeply resonant for me and key to my understanding of what it means to be alive and of this world.

The patterns are constructed from daily snapshots and scanographs composed in my studio. Combinations of motifs are “sewn” together through extreme image layering and masking. Often working with over 100 layers, a photographic grouping is created and then given a “repeat” structure - a textile design term referring to the way a pattern is set up to tile seamlessly in any direction. The ability of these patterns to endlessly tile creates the potential for multiple size works ranging from large individual prints to full room installations.

The designs themselves are presented in several different ways: as solitary repeating patterns, as stand-alone tapestry-like designs and as floor to ceiling sections that combine repeating patterns with elaborate “trompe l’oeil” mouldings including wainscoting, friezes, borders, swags and other architectural detailing. Traditionally these would be called a “decorator’s specimen panel”. Guidelines for designing panels such as these were outlined in the Journal of Decorative Art in 1886, however my work takes these rules governing 19th century “good taste” and breaks them with densely elaborate surfaces that feature both the living and the dying.

Choosing to focus on natural elements that are not commonly appreciated or used for decorative purposes, my artwork is connected to the “wildness” in nature even as it is taming it by the creation of formal patterning. Creating a context for connection, it is my hope to draw the viewer into a local world as it hasn’t been seen before: charged with wonder, rich, complex and changeable while being inclusive and accessible.

Lisa A. Frank
November, 2010

click on image for an enlargement, price, size and medium.

Nature of Pattern

Cabinet of Curiosities

Specimen Panels

Tapestries 2013 - 2014

Still Even Series 2013-2015

To Be In Any Form

Tableaux 2014

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Carrie Haddad Gallery   tel. 518.828.1915