Patrick at an Event in New York
Patrick in His Studio
The Musings and Diatribes of a New York Actor and Playwright
Zack CalhoonThe core of THE SIGNATURE PROJECT, directed by Eric Paul Vitale, is a huge 76 ft. x 36 ft. mural layered with hidden secrets. For the past 22 years a live performance has toured the United States bringing the mural to life, with artist Patrick Dunning ingeniously weaving stories and images in the great tradition of Irish artists. Now, this play with music and dance comes to New York for its Off-Broadway premiere. A unique, exhilarating tapestry blending art and technology, THE SIGNATURE PROJECT offers the opportunity for the audience to join over 300,000 people whose signatures already comprise the fabric of this monumental art work. The painting and the play are constantly changing and evolving as people contribute their own signature and story to the larger art work, adding perspectives and ideas which make the world so special and wonderful, beyond imagination. Creator Patrick Dunning is from Dublin, Ireland and now lives in Portland, Oregon.
March 5th 2018
When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?
When I was growing up in Dublin, Ireland, around the age of 13 or 14 as I was becoming aware of some persistent urge inside me to make "stuff." I didn't really know why or what do about it, but I found myself hammering thousands and thousands of nails into wood boards night after night. Soon, shapes began to form on those boards and I became lost in their emerging patterns. At that point I became aware of the creative process and decided to follow that instinct. Needless to say, the constant hammering of nails soon had my family banishing me out of earshot to my grandmother's coal shed 3 blocks away. It didn't bother her because she was deaf.
Tell me about THE SIGNATURE PROJECT. How do you feel it’s going? What do you love most about the show?
First of all, it's an artwork in progress. It's a painting I'm creating by collaborating with over one million people. Each person’s colored signature on canvas is like one stitch in a tapestry. That tapestry is an image of the earth, moon, sun, stars, and galaxy. The sun's center has a radiating white heart even brighter than the sun. It's a cosmic landscape and my attempt to paint an image that says everything. It has many different layers that are only revealed by looking at the artwork in different ways. Under ultraviolet light it shows another image; when x-rayed more images. Photograph it with an infrared camera and it opens another window into the work. It's also performance and theatre. The artwork is full of interaction and this interaction is revealed on stage through art, voice, dance, projection and live music. There's even a Theremin hidden inside.
t's exciting to see it coming together in a New York theatre with director/producer, Eric P. Vitale, supporting actors, musicians, projection specialists, audio engineers. Did I mention lawyers and accountants?
I love the interaction with the audience when they add their signatures to the work. It's fascinating meeting people and hearing their stories. THE SIGNATURE PROJECT offers me countless ways to create images and elements that find their way into either the performance or the painting itself. There's no end to the possibilities for me.
What kind of writing inspires you?
When you read a sentence that envelops you in a sensory moment so that you must reread it over and over just to take delight in its poetic perfection. One of my favorite books is Faith is the Hunter by Ernest K. Gann. He writes of his life as an aviator and the words so beautifully rise from the pages that you hear the wind rushing by and feel the comforting vibration of the engines through the pages.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your work as an artist thus far?
Visually, I'm influenced by many artists and designers but the biggest overall influence for me in the last few years has been listening to blues music. It's such a deep form of expression that I incorporated it into my work about 15 years ago when I started to play blues guitar. Over the years, I've driven across the united states, coast to coast, 77 times to perform in different cities and towns. As I've traveled, I've recorded these trips on camera and video and, in my show, I project some of those journeys on screen as I play live blues on top. The landscape of the USA and the blues music is such a perfect match.
What else are you working on right now?
Well, I'm working on my upcoming Off-Broadway shows in March at the Sheen Center on Bleecker Street. The amount of rehearsal and preparation is all consuming. Another thing I'm working on is with tape balls that I make from my used Gaffer’s tape. After my shows I collect the tape but I don't throw it out. It gets turned into small balls. I've over a thousand of them and they're black, about the size of a golf ball. The idea is to create a stop motion animation sequence on a grey floor that looks like raindrops hitting a still pond surface that then radiating out in circles. It would only be about 20 seconds of animation but I've already written the music for it. It's very relaxing and peaceful, as rainy days can be.