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Mystery sculptures explained

Views 67 | Time to read: 2 minutes | Uploaded: 1 - 29 - 2015 | By: Emma Johnson


For artist Dan Patterson, the sculptures and art installations he has exhibited across the Westmont campus are more than just pieces of art. To him, they are a visual representation of his lifelong struggle with Tourette syndrome.

Patterson, son of Campus Pastor Ben Patterson, built and installed eight pieces on Westmont’s campus five years ago. Since then, some of the pieces have broken or been removed, but three pieces still remain: “Imbalance,” located near the dining commons, “Tourette’s #4 (I Lost Myself Just Now),” a red structure by Deane Chapel, and “Tourette’s #7 (Échappé),” located near Porter Hall.

One piece,“Untitled,” crafted with plastic and containing a motion sensor, is not currently on display, but is a deeply personable representation of Patterson’s experience with Tourette syndrome. Regularly installed in a group of trees, the artwork interacts with viewers by flashing bursts of LED light when a spectator walks under the leafy canopy. To Patterson, this signifies the rapid and uncontrollable swearing that is often associated with Tourette syndrome. He is hoping to replace the batteries of this piece over the summer.

Patterson’s building process for the pieces involved several scale models, as well as frustrating setbacks. For example, Patterson had to rebuild “Imbalance” several times to achieve the aesthetic he wanted. His other two pieces had a smoother process because Patterson utilized scale models, which enabled him to know what he wanted to do and where he wanted the parts to go before he started building.

Patterson took several days to build the scale model for “Tourette’s #7 (Échappé).” After building the model, it only took him a day to assemble the full-scale piece located by Porter Hall.

Patterson had the metal parts curved at a company in Los Angeles that builds large metal sheets for airplanes. Patterson took the metal back home and cut it up into the sizes he needed based on his scale model. He then rented a tractor to lift the parts into the position that he wanted them, describing it as a sort of “pick-up-sticks game.” Patterson says that this “authentic” work has grown on him the most, and is his favorite piece on campus.


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