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Tacoma Art Museum opens new Patha exhibition

Seattle-based visual artist Camille Patha opens a new exhibition, Passion Pleasure Power, of more than fifty new pieces created over the last three years, now open at Tacoma Art Museum.

Camille Patha, Moonstruck, 2020. Fabric, glitter, and mirrors on canvas, 80 x 72 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Photograph by Daniel DeVries.

Camille Patha is through with labels. “I’m not a woman artist, I’m an artist,” she said at the preview for her new exhibition, Passion Pleasure Power.

The Seattle-based visual artist’s latest showing, is now open at Tacoma Art Museum. It features over 50 paintings and mixed media pieces by Patha. 

Woman artist, Northwest artist, abstract artist–for Patha, none of these labels accurately express the depth and purpose of her work.

 “What do you mean, ‘abstract’? It’s not abstract, it’s real. It’s very specific, it’s very articulate. It’s not abstract at anything,” Patha said about her work.

Emotions in a Patha piece are usually conveyed not through easily categorized subjects, but intense bursts of color. Her latest collection of work is no exception: the gallery is filled with vivid hues dancing across black backdrops in these pieces created by Patha over the last three years.

“Color has a voice, and it’s not an audible voice. There’s no words but it talks to you, and it leads me,” Patha explains in a short film titled “Camille in Color.” 

The new short film, directed and edited by Seattle-based filmmaker David Wild, premiered at the exhibition’s opening event on March 3rd. The film is a playful glimpse into Patha’s mindset and approach to her art. It is streaming within the gallery throughout the run of the exhibition. 

The centerpiece of the show is “Cascade,” a mixed media piece made up of glittering gold fabric draped on black pentagonal boards, accented with red along the edges. It towers above the rest of the exhibition at twenty-eight feet tall. Other pieces include the mixed media “Moon Struck,” a series of colorful pastels on black paper called Night Thinking and a painting titled “Scheherazade” inspired by the musical composition of the same name. 

Patha has always been acutely aware of the glass ceiling women face in the art world. When she first started as a young painter, she signed her work with only her initials. 

 Camille Patha, Tuesday, 2020. Pastel on board, 19 7/8 x 21 7/8 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Photograph by Daniel DeVries. 

“I won just about every show I entered with C.D. Patha,” Patha said, “But after I graduated from graduate school…I was entering one time and they said, ‘You’re C.D. Patha? I thought you were a man. You paint just like a man.’ I was shocked. I said, ‘I paint like a painter.’…When it came out, I didn’t win as many shows.” 

Rather than letting this discourage her, she channeled her experiences with gender discrimination and power imbalance into a visual art career that has spanned over half a century. She continues to find inspiration through constant discovery, such as her newfound love for hard rock. 

“There’s always something out there that you can hunt and find, and go ‘Oh wow, this is interesting!’ And don’t stop,” said Patha. 

Her attitude is defined by living in the moment and an unending passion for the sensual. “It is my life by breathing in and out right now,” Patha says in Camille in Color. “That’s what it is. It’s all about that. That’s all there is. That’s all there is: now.” 

“Get coffee. Coffee helps. It’s a drug that’s legal,” Patha quipped when asked what advice she would give to people who want to create art but experience self-doubt. “Go on with life. Get on it. Go forward. Don’t worry about yourself. You worry about yourself, you cut yourself off at the knees.” 

“Don’t let anybody steal your mojo,” she added later. 

Camille Patha: Passion Pleasure Power will be on view at Tacoma Art Museum until September 3, 2023. There will also be monthly meet and greet events with the artist in the gallery, and additional events are to be announced. For more information, visit tacomaartmuseum.org

The museum hosts various programs to reduce admission costs for visitors, such as admission-free Neighborhood Nights every Thursday from 5-8 p.m. Free admission is available year-round to all children under 18, as well as active military/veterans/reservists and their families. Details about these programs and more can be found on the TAM website.

Video by Tacoma Art Museum via YouTube | TAM // “Camille In Color” : trailer
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