The George and Francss Ball Distinguished Professor of Art,
Ball State University School of Art

ARTIST STATEMENT My work reflects my interests in pattern and decoration, the history of art and design, and the fascinating and complex forms found in the natural world. Early studies in the fundamentals
of design and in the organization and discipline of the Bauhaus and European Constructivism
have endured in my aesthetic sensibility. I have also absorbed lessons from the Arts and Crafts movement including respect for all materials and skills as plus a keen observation of positive / negative interactions. Careful study of shape and form led inexorably to an abiding fascination with Japanese thought and design. Together, these multiple influences led to my love of pattern and the sensitive placement of elements, later developing into an appreciation of wabi-sabi—the Japanese aesthetic based on imperfection and transience. I have developed a love of the exaggerated and bizarre. Flowers that could be animals, shields that could be carapaces, tendrils that could be flagellum exist as structural elements in seemingly familiar objects like candleholders or baskets.
I strive to make powerful forms that contain delicate detail, captivating attention and making the viewer stay to investigate the surfaces as well as the structures.

I generally structure my forms around geometry—from squares, circles and triangles to more complex polygons—and the geometry creates a sense of order that dictates the subsequent ornamentation. I am most comfortable making functional objects. The demands of making something that performs a task - be it ornamenting the body, pouring liquid, or storing small precious things - appeal to me and create instant and interesting problems to solve. In addition, familiar forms made slightly strange reflect my desire to make historical and common objects into new and unexpected forms. Copper and silver are used extensively, and the metal surfaces are heavily ornamented with etching, electroforming, enamel, refractive metals, various patinas, stones, etc. Rich surfaces and colors exist in contrast to complex architectural structures much in the same way they do in nature. As much as anything, I want the products of my hands to be objects of contemplation, to reward close reading by revealing more and more levels of meaning.

BIO Patricia Mork Nelson was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, in the time of late modernism. Her education in metalsmithing and enameling began in Seattle at the University of Washington and continued at the State University of New York at New Paltz where she received her MFA. She began her teaching career in Muncie Indiana, and throughout the three decades that she has been at Ball State University, she has taught all aspects of metals and foundation design. As an artist and educator, she has been active in SNAG and in the Enamelist Society. She has exhibited metal work and enamel work throughout the US for over three decades as well as presenting lectures and workshops nationwide. Awards and grants have included BSU Outstanding Creative Endeavor and Outstanding Professor Awards, College of Fine Arts Distinguished Teaching and Distinguished Creative Endeavor Awards and numerous university and Indiana Arts Commission grants. In 2014 she was named as the first George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Art.