Patricia Brentano developed a spiritual attachment to the natural world growing up in southern Indiana. Her work is rooted in direct observation and a felt sense of nature. She transformed her suburban yard into a native habitat to benefit the migratory birds as well as the local environment. Much of her inspiration comes from her own back yard.
She has partnered with NJ Audubon and The Nature Conservancy of Indiana to create site specific installations. She has received commissions from environmental organizations and hospitals as well as private collectors. As an educator, Pat gives talks on how to transform our yards into native habitats as well as a workshop about learning to see and reconnect to nature.
“We Don’t Own Nature: The Artwork of Patricia Brentano” is on view online and at the Monmouth Museum (Lincroft, New Jersey) through March 15, 2021. Learn more at monmouthmuseum.org.
In 2012, PBS nationally aired the NJN State of the Arts documentary about Pat as an artist and environmentalist. The Institute for Women’s Leadership at Rutgers also produced a documentary about her work as part of their Transforming Lives Project. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the Mid-Atlantic States. She is a NJ State Council on the Arts Individual Fellow, and a Puffin Grant Recipient.
Pat’s work on endangered birds received the Curators award at the Chesterwood Museum in MA. She was also awarded a residency at I-Park in Connecticut and The Evansville Museum in Indiana. She earned a BFA from Washington University and an MFA from Tyler School of Art. Pat has studios in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, Naples, Florida and Shohola Pennsylvania.
Birds have no arms. They cannot speak. They build nests, hunt for food and defend their young with their beaks. They are delicate creatures that defy gravity and fill the forest with idiosyncratic song. Tragically, since 1970 North America has lost 3 billion birds. In the suburbs we have slowly destroyed their habitat, replacing it with sterile grass and ornamental trees and shrubs cut into balls. We fail to see the beauty and significance of native habitat.
Nature is not neat. It is tangled, layered, textured and ever-changing. The isolation we have endured during the past year has forced us to re-evaluate the way we see the world. Now we look out our windows and walk our neighborhoods. We are finding solace in what has always been there, nature. My work is about seeing this authenticity. We must preserve what remains and educate others to do the same. The artist has always had the capacity to comfort and enlighten. I want my work to be a visual voice for the birds.