Sandoval Signpost
An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Featured Artist

Signpost featured artists: Zoe Patterson

Zoe Patterson

Artist Zoe Patterson models her cast bronze metal jewelry.
Photo credit: —Oli Robbins

c. Zoe Patterson

Susurrus, cast bronze, constructed bronze, cast resin, steel. Varying sizes from 3-6’ high and 3-5’ wide. In several private sculpture collections, Albuquerque.

c. Zoe Patterson

Bicycle Plow, steel, bicycle parts, urethane plastics, 91x37x56 inches. Now on permanent collection at the Wheels Museum, Albuquerque.

c. Zoe Patterson

Frog Bell, Cast bronze. 2x2x3.5”

Signpost featured artist

The metal-physical art of Zoe Patterson

—Oli Robbins

Art comes into people’s lives in very different ways, and our relationships to it are just as varied. Some artists find art later in life after following a more “rational” career path. Others are born holding paintbrushes instead of rattles and can’t ignore their impulses, hard as they may try. Three-D mixed media sculptor and jeweler Zoe Patterson is one such artist. Her devotion to her craft is palpable, and her work reflects her beliefs, observations, and personal experiences.

Zoe grew up with her four siblings in Placitas. Home-schooled until college, she and her siblings were encouraged to discover the areas of study that most excited them. For Zoe, it was always art, and her mother—a fabric artist and painter—provided her with the materials and time to experiment with and get to know art. The Patterson’s curriculum was so flexible, or as Zoe calls it “free-range,” that her mother referred to it as “un-schooling.” Instead of sitting in a classroom, the Pattersons would traverse the desert and admire its many patterns. Her present work seems indelibly connected to the stark and sometimes primordial forms of the desert earth, and she continues to spend hours finding inspiration within nature, gathering natural objects and later casting them, thereby imprinting the organic and ephemeral in something constant.

Always more interested in 3-D art than painting or drawing, Zoe taught herself a variety of techniques and began showing her jewelry in arts and crafts shows in her teens. Her parents offered unremitting support and endowed her with the confidence to follow her instincts and disregard any outside negativity. After high school “graduation,” she didn’t go to art school right away, instead spending a few years toying with more “secure” jobs. She procured a real estate license and also studied culinary arts at CNM. “But,” says Zoe, “there was a certain point when I realized, why not go ahead and do what I want, what I’m passionate about? Why not struggle doing something I love than struggle doing something I don’t?” Friends and family members warned her that studying art in a university setting might prove too intensive and lead to burn-out, but for Zoe, “it was the opposite… It inspired me more, gave me more drive.” She found that her independent drive helped her glean as much as she could from each professor and class. Her experience was so rewarding that she hopes to become a studio art professor in the not-so-distant future and invite students to locate their own styles and abilities, without competition or fruitless criticism. Says Zoe, “I’m technical—I’d rather get my hands dirty and create dust and dirt than sit and draw a sterile picture. I love the process.”

Whether making sculpture or viewing it, Zoe believes that the 3-D arts offer visceral experiences that demand an examination of one’s surroundings and perceptions. “To me,” she says, “3-D is more real, more in this world. 3-D becomes an object.” She loves to play with metal and fire—bringing together two fundamental elements to create enduring, essential forms. Zoe considers her best work to be that which was informed by her own spirit. And while the work’s “essence” may not be obvious, viewers will discern something implicit. “My most successful pieces have been the ones that I put the most of myself into. My audience may not know what it is, but they feel it.”

One such piece was a large-scale installation designed for her senior thesis show. The work was comprised of several metal cattails that moved with the motion of their environment. She formed them by welding together steel plate, thin steel rods, resin and bronze. Their movement made them appear sentient, despite the fact that the structures were obviously man-made. To experience the work, the viewers had to move within and around it, and because the cattails swayed and bent, many viewers inevitably bumped into them. This piece defied the notion that art should be seen and not touched, instead forcing viewers to become fully present in and aware of their environments—even if this rendered them temporarily uncomfortable.

Zoe’s work should be seen in person, and, if possible, even touched or held. Her pieces are replete with tangible energy. She can be reached by phone or email for viewings, commissions or conversations. Contact Zoe at 263-7551 or send email to

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