The art of Pat Frades is unmistakable–simply look for the mushrooms. Mushrooms that look enticing enough to touch, but up close take on a more surreal character. Her playful sculptures center around fungi that come in a range of unnatural colors, sprawling stalks and forms, and otherworldly coral-like formations. Some spores grow out of human body parts and vice versa, body parts grow out of vivid clusters.
Mushrooms have been a relatively common motif in contemporary art. Artists like Jemila MacEwan, Nour Mobarak, and TJ Shin incorporate mushrooms in their works, evoking their capacity to grow in different environments. Frades takes inspiration from a more whimsical realm: the psychedelic experience.
无一例外，Pat Frades 的雕塑作品都和蘑菇有关。这些蘑菇外表大都鲜艳明亮，引诱人向前触摸。仔细一瞅，你还会发现大量超现实元素，它们色彩各异，四下蔓延，形似珊瑚，如梦如幻。与此同时，人体部位在当中若隐若现。当代艺术中，蘑菇是常见的图案。Jemila MacEwan、Nour Mobarak 和 TJ Shin 等艺术家都将蘑菇大量融入到自己的创作中，强调其在多种环境下的强大生命力。然而，Pat 的灵感则取自蘑菇更为梦幻的一面。
Frades has long been fascinated by mushrooms. She was particularly intrigued by psilocybin mushrooms—a hallucinogen that leads to altered mind states. Hearing secondhand accounts from others who’ve taken them, she envisioned an experience out of this world. After trying them herself, she discovered something more profound than mere trippiness. They helped her see the world in a completely different way, unearthing a deeper connection between humans and nature. In her art, mushrooms represent the comforting thought that everything is truly brimming with life.
In her early days as an artist, she would sketch graphite illustrations that fused mushrooms with human forms. It wasn’t until she stumbled across artist Stephanie Kilgast, who was an active name on YouTube and Skillshare, that she would discover clay sculpture, a medium she’s been working in ever since. Another influence she cites is The Last Of Us video games, where a fungus breeds an infection that causes a viral zombie-esque outbreak. The half-human, half-fungus creatures in the game inspired Frades to create her own human-mushroom hybrids.
创作初期，Pat 用石墨绘制人形蘑菇。后来，她受到线上媒体艺术家 Stephanie Kilgast 的影响，开始接触泥塑。她还提到，《美国末日》（The Last Of Us）系列电子游戏也是她的灵感来源之一。游戏中，某种蘑菇导致病毒性传染病爆发，人们只要与其接触就会变成蘑菇丧尸。这些半人半菇的丧尸给予了 Pat 灵感，使她开始创作人菇合一的作品。
The artist’s inquiry into mushrooms was initially scientific, spurned by an interest in their psychological effects. While sculpting, she would often reference botanical illustrations as well as real mushrooms she would grow with DIY spore kits. This detail-driven eye allowed her to imbue each cap and stalk with immaculate details culled from their real-life counterparts. The erratic growth patterns of her clusters suggest organic growth rather than any deliberate composition. One might look at her sculptures and think of them as real plant life, but upon close inspection, they appear as outlandish as they are delightfully colorful.
Much like how mushrooms thrive in symbiosis, Frades finds joy in collaborating with other artists. Collaboration presents both a challenge in the work’s conception, but also a relief knowing she isn’t alone while creating. In her work Retrospect Memory with painter Jane Cuevas, the 2D and 3D merge as mushrooms grow from a colorful portrait’s hair, mouth, and ear. She meets the delicate yet macabre aesthetic of Mariel Garcia in works where her brightly colored spores grow out of skeletal body parts. In a photography series with Aia Solis, Frades herself becomes the base as mushrooms grow around and seemingly from her own body. Her creativity flourishes in having to seamlessly adapt her striking sculptures to another artist’s style. The challenge is a welcome one and underscores the notion that mushrooms can grow anywhere.
正如大自然中不同物种之间共生的关系，Pat 也从与其他艺术家的合作中收获益处。合作带来创作上的挑战，合作也是某种慰藉，使她知道自己并非孤军奋战。在她与画家 Jane Cuevas 合作完成的作品《回忆》（Retrospect Memory）中，蘑菇从平面角色的头发、嘴巴和耳朵上长出，实现了一次 2D 和 3D 项融合的作品；在与 Mariel Garcia 合作的作品中，蘑菇在人体骨架中生长，体现着精致且惊悚的审美情趣；在与摄影师 Aia Solis 合作的一组相片中，Pat 自己化身为模特，蘑菇在她身边四下蔓延，与身体融合。合作中，Pat 有时需要对自己的风格进行调整，这算作是一种挑战，也强调了一个事实：蘑菇可在任何地方恣意生长。
Full realism is not something Frades targets in depicting mushrooms. Instead, she seeks to capture their essence while imbuing her own surreal touches. Mushrooms grow out of clasped hands, fingers sprout from a dense mass of alien fungi, and a severed hand walks on its index and middle finger as mushrooms sprout from its wrist. Some of these works may seem grotesque at first glance, but there’s also a sense of peace and harmony in the way these elements exist in relation to each other. One does not dominate the other and they intertwine, appearing to grow as one organism.
The grotesque qualities of her work can perhaps be seen as a visualization of the stigma around magic mushrooms. While psilocybin mushrooms are known as one of the most harmless drugs, many see them as dangerous—a gateway to addiction and harder drugs. Some doubt their supposed health benefits; others judge those who take them and the culture it spawned. But for Frades, who’s taken the time to understand them, the experience offered by psilocybin goes beyond recreational. She witnessed the way mushrooms helped a loved one improve their mental health and provide peace of mind. With her own experiences in tow, she views them not as a drug, but a form of medicine—one that has the potential to help a lot of people.
It’s this potential that she ultimately seeks to highlight through her art. The strangeness, intricacy, and harmony in her works reflect an awe for nature. Where there are mushrooms, there is life. And in the art of Pat Frades, life is celebrated where the smallest and most curious of wonders grow.
从某种角度来看，Pat 的作品像是对致幻蘑菇具像化的表达，也是她对致幻蘑菇偏见的一次挑战。尽管这种蘑菇是对人体伤害最小的毒品之一，但许多人还是将其视作危险品，认为它会使人上瘾进而尝试更易成瘾的毒品。有些人质疑它是否真的有益健康；还有些人戴着有色眼镜评判食用致幻蘑菇的人以及促成这种现象产生的文化。对于 Pat 来说，致幻体验带给她的不仅仅是快乐，她还亲眼目睹过致幻蘑菇帮助她的一位朋友重拾健康心理和平静心态的经历。在她眼中，致幻蘑菇是药物而非毒品。
有蘑菇的地方就有生命，作品中的怪诞、复杂与和谐恰恰反映了艺术家 Pat 对自然的敬畏之心。在她的作品中，这些看似微不足道却极不寻常的小生命茁壮生长，唱响一曲对生命的礼赞。