Art by Tiffin woman on exhibit in Toledo

Through September, visitors at Toledo Museum of Art can view “Zeroes and Ones,” an exhibit of art inspired by video games and technology. Among the works on display are three digital pieces by Patricia Banks of Tiffin. Many friends and family members attended the opening reception in May, and Banks was interviewed on WTTF.

Having lived in Texas much of her career, the artist returned to her hometown about three years ago. While trying to cope with the harsh winter of 2013-14, she started searching for contests to enter.

“I found one at the Toledo museum, so I sent some of my digital work in there and three of them were accepted,” Banks said.

The titles are “Merbaby’s Treasures,” “Marble Shooter” and “Golden Fish.” The museum’s website said three dozen artists created 70 works that included short videos and two-dimensional art, using a variety of computer techniques. Banks said she was elated to be exhibiting in the same halls with thousands of famous artists.

Raised in Tiffin, Banks said she knew at age 5 she wanted to be an artist. After graduation from Calvert High School, she enrolled in the art program at North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas). Her maternal grandparents lived in the same area, so she stayed with them during her college years and remained there to pursue her craft. She lived in New York for a few years before coming back to Tiffin.

“I took forever to get used to the cold. When I first came up here, I sat all summer long on my sister’s porch, wrapped in a blanket. I was freezing to death,” Banks recalled.

At NTSU, she took a special interest in portrait drawings and various kinds of sculpture – hand-cast paper, alabaster, ceramics and bronze. Banks’ resume includes numerous awards dating back to 1980, and she has been featured in exhibitions in Texas, Kentucky, New York and Ohio. She holds a membership in the Museum of Computer Art in Brooklyn, New York.

About a year ago, Banks discovered the sculpture studio and foundry of James Havens in Gibsonburg. She said she was excited to find a place where she could get back to crafting her own sculptures. An instructor at Owens Community College in Toledo, Havens was instrumental in organizing the Toledo Area Sculptors Guild. Havens’ bronze sculpture, “The Chaplain,” can be seen at Gibsonburg’s Veterans Memorial. A community in Nebraska commissioned Havens to make a similar sculpture for their town.

“I helped him make that, and he was teaching me along the way. He’s kind of my mentor … I help him and he helps me,” Banks said, adding, “My main focus always should have been sculpture.”

Anyone who has driven through Gibsonburg probably has noticed the “art in the park” that Havens has installed. Starting in 2004, he and members of the TASG have created a new outdoor exhibit each year. It has become an attraction for art lovers. Now a member of Toledo Area Sculptors Guild, Banks soon may add one or more of her pieces to a future display in Gibsonburg.

Last winter, Banks could not get to the foundry or to her studio at the Tiffin home of her niece. Having done digital art for a number of years, Banks decided to work in that medium until the weather improved. That was how she found the art museum’s contest online.

Banks’ website (fineartbypjbanks.weebly.com) has samples of her “Madonna and Child” series of limited edition prints and another series, “Highly Admirable People.” The latter is a collection of drawings of people such as Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Helen Keller, Crazy Horse, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. The artist explained she does the portraits by using a group of photographs to complete a composite. They are called derivative art because she derives information from multiple pictures. Banks compares her method to what a screenwriter does to adapt a book into a movie script.

“I did a friend of mine, and I took pictures all around him. Then I sat with all these pictures. It’s intimidating to try to draw somebody when they’re sitting there for hours and hours, so I just use the photographs. But I consider that original work,” Banks said. “Mostly, I take pictures of my art so I can exhibit them. You always have to have pictures.”

She also had two photographs chosen for the Tiffin Art Guild’s 2014 photography contest. No matter what the medium, Banks said people and animals are her favorite subjects. When she came back to Tiffin, Banks met Mark Levans and made arrangements with him to make prints of her art. Her digital pieces have nature, mythology and fantasy themes.

With the help of technology and her new-found connections, Banks said she wants to continue creating art “as long as my feet and hands work.”

To learn more or purchase art by Patricia Banks, visit www.fineartbypjbanks.weebly.com. The Toledo Area Sculptors Guild has a Facebook page with information about that group.