Patrice DiChristina

Screen shot 2017-05-22 at 1.47.35 PMFinal Project Statement: Shapes I Could Take

These three paintings are a part of my growing research on human malleability. Each vessel in these paintings can be envisioned as a potential shape one might have to bend into in order to exist in the varied and ever changing situations we encounter throughout life–both positive and negative. These changes in ourselves and our environment can save us, grow us, and sometimes hurt us; there is something captivating about this dance. The complete project comes together as a visual representation of the beauty and tension inherent in being able to relinquish control and move into different versions of ourselves.

Final Reading Response: Rebecca Solnit “The Blue of Distance”

I was able to relate to many of the intimate stories in Rebecca Solnit’s “The Blue of Distance,” particularly her description of walking along the lakebed of the Great Salt Lake during a season of heavy drought–I often have felt and been intrigued by the inexplicable urge to explore what lies beneath the surface of the ocean. As a child, my grandparents lived a short walk away from the beach in New Jersey. The topography of the beach–especially directly on the shore–was in constant flux, due to a variety of factors. The beach was artificially created using sand pumped from deep waters offshore, and thus the beach would always be gradually sinking into the ocean. Though the town regularly re-sanded the beach, they were fighting with a grand natural force and I don’t think that the shore was ever the same from summer to summer. The pull of the tides on the artificial sand created magnificent effects in the strangest ways–tide pools four feet deep fifty feet from the shore at low tide; a gradual reeemergence of the heavy black stones on the jetty; deep-sea shells removed from their high pressure homes and relocated among the flotsam and jetsam.
My obsession with observing and interacting with these happenings along the shore is a result of the effects that Solnit describes. The draw to touch and interact with the artificially placed sand and observe its perpetual transformations relates to the drive to know what lies beneath–what it looks like above. Yet it was not unsatisfying to be able to access the “blue” in this case because it was still temporary–the changing topography caused the moments of accessing the “blue” to be savored because they may not have been there the same way the next day, the next tide, the next summer.
Walking along the shoreline is, in any case, a deeply satisfying interaction with the “blue” because it is constantly hiding, revealing, and changing. In this specific situation, my draw to explore the shore was compounded with the fact that the beach was created in some sense artificially–yet the town could not overcome the natural forces that shape the shoreline.

Mid-Term Project:

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It is both surprising and satisfying to find myself here in another country, speaking another language, and not be wishing for home. Over the past few months, I have become less rigid–physically and psychologically. This is because I have been required to become more adaptable to unfamiliar and at times stressful situations–I have become more fluid as I move myself through space and time. I move through space as I travel and exist in these new spaces. I leave part of myself wherever I go–my footprints and fingerprints, people I have spoken to, hair and DNA. And I take part of it with me, generally in the form of memory but also in the form of physical objects that I may take. Performing the action of moving through unfamiliar spaces gracefully and without judgment–simply experiencing them–is new to me.

This physical piece represents this change.The action I have associated with it–pouring–is a possible metaphor for the active occurrence of this change. Each vessel constructed here represents a nonspecific situation. Each one has been constructed in such a way that they have an entrance and an exit. When water is poured into the topmost vessel, the water reacts to the shape of this vessel–filling it up and then exiting out of the top and side-holes of the vessel. The water then cascades down the structure, encountering and moving through each vessel in turn. The vessels do not hold the water, but both the water and the vessel are changed as the water flows through them. Because the vessels are not totally sealed with glaze, the water soaks into the ceramic pieces. The ceramic pieces’ colors are mildly changed and they crackle as they soak in the liquid. The water also loses some of itself to the ceramic pieces. However, this change is temporary–eventually, the water must evaporate and the sculpture dries, returning itself to its original state. Because of this, the gluey drips serve to reference the action of the water flowing through the sculpture when that action is not occurring.

Reading response to “What Art Is and What Artists Do” by Jerry Saltz:

In his essay, “What is Art and What Artists Do,” Jeffrey Saltz attempts to briefly explain the workings of artists and the art world. Though he makes a number of interesting points, I am intrigued by his assertions that we do not live in a world where one medium comes alive and another dies (I’m paraphrasing here). I have been unable or afraid to articulate this sentiment for a while now, but am wholly in agreement with it. Saltz argues that things do not come alive and then disappear–they shift, transform, and grow. I feel that this can be compared to the idea that a work of art is never finished. To me, this does not mean that an artist should return to all of their works in order to expand on them in a more satisfying way. This means that creating art is less about finishing pieces that are perfect and more about the transitional process of growing and changing and learning to speak your own truth through some medium. As art is subjective, it is impossible to tell whether or not a medium as a whole or a piece itself is finished–for example, the smallest increments of change could be monumentously important for creating a stark difference between two works. In some cases, stagnancy is meditation, which is a whole other art form to be approached…. In other words, the answer to the question that the usage of a new medium proposes may not be as simple as the amount of different ways the medium can be organized in space. The answer transforms into further questions the more a medium is manipulated or disseminated or destroyed. Creating art is thus not about solving a medium but processing it by reacting to its properties given the context of the situation in which the medium is encountered.

Reading response to “Shape of a Walk” by Rebecca Solnit:
The reflections upon Maria Abramovic and Ulay’s walking pieces found in “The Shape of a Walk” reminded me of the almost inherent social nature of walking. As the author discusses in the first few paragraphs, the first examples of walking in art can be found in depictions of ancient peoples working, immigrating, or engaging in social acts through their walking. Though walking is meditative and certainly good thing to do alone before reinstituting oneself into the social world, the act of walking can also be restorative and intimate for multiple people as once. It can hold different weights or meanings depending on the relationships between the people who are walking together–for example, it can be educational and relaxing for a parent to “take a walk” with their child. But two people in a relationship may take a walk for very different reasons–not to exercise themselves, perhaps, but to spend important time alone or to have a relaxing distraction as they approach an uncomfortable conversation topic. Further, two bored friends may decide to take a walk not because it is meditative nor because it is educational or relaxing, but because it is a way to be out of the house without having to be anywhere else. Considering all the different roles a walk may play in different social settings causes the art of walking to take on another dimension entirely. The art of walking transforms into the delicate art of relationship maintenance–choosing when, where, and why one decides to take a walk with another person or group of people.


“Unstable Territories” brings up a lot of intriguing points about the possible natures of different boundaries, both physical and metaphorical. One essay discussed thinking of countries as tools for creating in-groups and out-groups. This forced me to wonder about my place not only as a visitor here in Italy, but also as a citizen of the United States. Clearly, forces within the US have made it a divisive state–many immigrants have been forced to leave after already having found refuge and home within the US, and many looking for a new home have found the gates to their future slammed shut. On the contrary, I have the double privilege of being a white American citizen. Countries that I wish to visit generally do not doubt my perceived safety because of these facts, and I am able to permeate the social and political boundaries at my pleasure. Because of my sociopolitical identity, I am able to become both a member of the in-group and the out-group fluidly (although I am not really a member of the societies into which I am welcomed, my identity is not questioned nor is it perceived as dangerous. As a result of my perceived neutrality, I am able to cross these boundaries and also return “home” without much thought). In this way, it becomes political to consider the ways that boundaries are experienced and influenced by different groups of people.

“Tempo Zulu / Coordinated International Time” Intro Unit Project: 

Despite the natural Tuscan beauty surrounding Siena, the city is oddly stark and devoid of green spaces, public or private. Additionally, many of the parks within the walls of Siena are challenging to access, or their status as a public or private space is difficult to determine. As such, Piazza del Campo exemplifies a strange tension. The massive, flat Piazza is clearly a public community space that is valued by many Sienese people. However, it is unlike any other city-center gathering space. It has no greenery, no tables and no chairs–it is simply a vast brick plaza that functions like a park. This is not a bad thing or a fault in any way, but it certainly is strange and unique.
My Tempo Zulu project proposal is to alter the Piazza del Campo in some way that creates more green space. I suggest two potential projects. The first would be to create a small garden at the bottom of the Campo, near the sewer, because rainwater would naturally flow there and it would require less upkeep. The second would be to transform the entirety of the campo into a public park. This would be a complete transformation of the life of the city, as it would undoubtedly interrupt the behavior of the contrade and the Palio itself. However, it would be a logical location for a large public park–the site of a tourist destination, close to shops and restaurants, and receiving plenty of sunlight throughout the day. The purpose of placing a public park in this large space would be to grow more greenery in Siena and provide a more comfortable meeting place for tourists and locals alike.

“Points of Entry” Intro Unit Project:

The concept of interstitial space has an abstract relation to my “Points of Entry” Project. In this project, I decided to represent the idea that there are many–if not infinite–mental representations of Porta Romana. As each being passes through or nearby the gate, a representation of the gate is imprinted in their psychological space–a representation that is dependent on immediate context, (such as mode of transportation through the gate (walking, biking, in a car, etc.) current weather), and historical context: nationality, personal life, and purpose for entering/exiting Siena (among many other factors). My project focused on how the gate, which is a literal and obvious interstitial space, is not just an interstitial space between suburbs and city: it is a gateway towards understanding the multitudinous nature of perception.


Patrice DiChristina, USA

Bio statement:

Hi! I’m Patrice DiChristina. I was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut and currently attend school at Oberlin College in Ohio. I grew up immersed in the arts and gradually found myself drawn to visual studio arts, which I now study at Oberlin alongside psychology. While paint is the medium I am most comfortable with, I find joy through experimentation and multimedia exploration. I love exciting processes, beautiful colors, and sharing artistic experiences with others.

Previous artwork by Patrice DiChristina: