Biting commentary: Creepy art with political agenda

Biting commentary: Creepy art with political agenda
Photo by Jason Speakman

He’s giving his eyeteeth for this show.

A Prospect Heights artist who uses three-dimensional printing to create creepy sculptures filled with teeth, skulls, and eyeballs will show off his latest work during the annual Gowanus Open Studios event on Oct. 21–22. Peter Patchen says that his piece “Gnaw” combines elements of the dead, with its rust-like coloring and broken jaw, with a wide open, shiny eye that gives it life.

“When something rusts or oxidizes it just gives it that feeling of decay or age, but then within that there’s something sort of alive, there’s this eye or a mouth with teeth, but when you look at them they are in the wrong place, the upper jaw is the lower teeth and backwards,” said Patchen, who lives in Prospect Heights. “The eye sort of suggests that it’s still alive, but it’s not really clear.”

Patchen’s work seems perfect for the spooky Halloween season, but it is designed to make a political statement about human suffering and people being metaphorically eaten alive, he said.

“What’s happening in the current political climate for me is unbelievable, I find myself thinking about it all the time,” said Patchen. “So it’s really part of this larger series, questioning our motives when it comes to using technology, and at this time, everything becomes political as everything should be — even in our politics, are we eating or are we being eaten?”

Having an orange-haired man for president is more terrifying than Patchen’s work could ever be, he said.

“The scariest monster is in the White House, as far as I’m concerned,” said Patchen.

In another piece, twins staring at a moth evoke questions of different values coming into conflict, he said.

“No matter how identical they are, they are never going to quite see that moth in the same way,” said Patchen. “It’s conflicting viewpoints, and no matter how much the same we are, we start to tear each other apart.”

Patchen and his frightening pieces are among about 350 Gowanus displays going up during the weekend event, including Brooklyn native Susan Handwerker’s ceramics, Lisa Lincoln’s anthropomorphic pottery, and Gil Kuno’s absurd mixed media pieces.

Peter Patchen (540 President St. between Third and Fourth avenues in Gowanus, www.artsgowanus.org). Oct. 21–22; noon–6 pm. Free. Gowanus Open Studio opening party at Brooklyn SolarWorks (200 Sixth St. between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus), Oct. 20; 7–10 pm. Free. Studios open all over the neighborhood.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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