By Donovan Levine
Kutztown was proud to host an art show on Friday, Sept. 21, for the opening to Patricia Johanson’s gallery exhibition. Patricia Johanson is a accomplished ecological architect, whose intellect on the subject is outstanding.
From 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., everyone was free to walk around and view the gallery, and at 7:30 Johanson hosted an open discussion regarding the background behind all of her work.
Since 1968, she’s worked on several large-scale projects for water purification and sewage systems. While these may not sound like your average Frank Wright-style definitions of art and architecture, what Johanson has been able to create are environmentally sound structures of different animals, plants and natural patterns that not only help us, as humans, recycle our water but also help the ecosystems around it be better protected.
“The Sunnydale Facilities in San Francisco” features her “Ribbon Worm,” which is literally shaped like a snake, that prevents human waste from flooding out into San Francisco Bay (you know, that beautiful strip of the ocean where the Golden Gate Bridge crosses) and can even be used as a walkway for pedestrians.
In Johanson’s discussion, she mentioned she originally intended for it to be a ramp for the handicapped, but the city would take liability for it, so it never happened.
Nonetheless, this is but one example of what she has created. Her collection also includes “Fair Park Lagoon in Dallas, Texas,” the “Amazon Rainforest Park in Obidos, Brazil” and “Sego Lily Dam in Salt Lake City.” These bizarre, wavy structures made from gunnery that supplant our water, create new niches and habitats for surrounding wildlife, and can be used for community recreation.
“The landmarks themselves are woven within the project,” Johanson mentioned in her open discussion when asked about whether she originally intended for nature to, literally not figuratively, devour her projects.
1968 was a long time ago, and art between then and now has drastically changed. It’s the same for Johanson. She reflected on this by saying, “You never know where life will take you.” She explained how much her own plans for the future have changed over the years, and she herself hadn’t imagined she’d be in the position she’s currently in. “Originally, I was a painter inspired by artists of the time, but my work evolved to include nature,” Johanson said.
Her artwork is living and fluid, as in it’s always changing and evolving as time progresses. That’s the most fascinating element of it. James Carroll, the individual hosting the art exhibition, mentioned that Johanson was really the only person he’s ever known to work on projects like hers.
The art exhibition may not feature everything she’s ever worked on, but the previously mentioned pieces are viewable first-hand or from freelancers’ landscape photographs of Johanson’s legacy. The closing reception for her exhibition will be held Sunday, Dec. 16.