From Trash to Treasures: One Local Artist's Creative Journey

By Eric Olson

March 20, 2014 Updated Mar 20, 2014 at 10:22 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive)--Patrice farmer planned on a writing career until she attended art school in New Mexico. Visiting the art galleries of Santa Fe changed her mind.

“This is my connection with my heritage,” she says, “that part of my heritage I wasn't raised with. This is the only way I can connect with it.”

Farmer is a self-described folk artist…her paper mache creations reflecting her mixed heritage…her mother was African American, her father white Puerto Rican. These days Farmer is creating beh-hee-gan-tay masks…used in Puerto Rico to celebrate carnivale. Farmer’s pieces are beautifully finished and very expressive…her figurative work in particular, full of emotion.

“Some artists, they want perfection they want it to look a certain way,” she says. “I want you to feel it…what you're actually seeing is my emotion.”

Farmer’s art also comes with a twist. Her pieces are made of recycled materials. Boxes of old newspaper, plastic bottles and cardboard fill her studio. A plastic milk jug cut in half will be transformed into this.

“I use every material I can find,” she says. “I use everything. You take something other people throw away and you make art out of it. To me that's pretty incredible.”

Farmer's artwork is attracting attention…the media have taken notice as have local galleries…proof of what you can create with a few throwaway materials, a lot of talent..and a little Caribbean spice tossed in. It's how this child of the islands honors her ancestors, while creating a life in art along the way. This is Eric Olson reporting.

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