Week 11: Artist Interview – Patricia E. Rangel



How often do you see art work made of dirt? Patricia Rangel’s gallery was the first time I have ever seen artwork made from dirt. I didn’t really notice it then but now as I am writing this blog post, I remembered the sand castle I made at the beach the other week. Well I guess Rangel’s gallery is still the first time I have seen art with dirt because sand and dirt are two different things. Don’t be deceived by the cracks. The dirt is actually harder than one may expect.

Rangel’s theme is kind of built around the idea of agriculture. Farmers plant, pick, and burn the crops. Then they just repeat the process. In a way, it’s similar to the life cycle. People are born, they grow up, and then they die. I would have never looked at it like that if it wasn’t for the interview.

The first question that popped into my mind when I was walking through the gallery was, “How does she move this?” Turns out she doesn’t. All her work is build on site and after her showing, she breaks her art works. Sometimes the dirt hardens up to a point where she has to break them with a sledge hammer.

The gold link from "A Racehorse That has Never Won a Race"

The gold link from “A Racehorse That has Never Won a Race”

The dirt that Rangel uses isn’t just some random dirt she found on the ground somewhere. All her works contain dirt that has a special relation to her life. Like “A Racehorse That has Never Won a Race” contains dirt from Smith Mountain Cemetery, where her sister and many others were buried. This piece also contains a chain link made of brass and one link made of gold. The brass pieces represent the number of babies buried and the gold link is for her sister.



“Sifted” is also from the Smith Mountain Cemetery. It was dirt collected from a person’s gravestone, whom she knew. It also contains a gold piece similar to the link from “A Racehorse That has Never Won a Race.” She did not state who the gravestone actually belonged to. Below is “Potential.” This piece contains dirt from several different places which she had relations to. You can really see the different layers of dirt in this one.



Unfortunately our interview was cut short because there was a class that she needed to speak to about her gallery. Rangel’s work really is one-of-a-kind because she builds them on site and afterwards, breaks them. So every time she has an exhibit, it will be a little different.


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