Interview with Ann Patterson about her Divine Pathways art at St. John The Diving in Harlem

Tea Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Harlem during production Divine waysa new, site-specific monumental installation by artist Anne Patterson.

The work started on Thursday, October 12, 2023 at Cathedral of St. John the Divine1047 Amsterdam Avenue in HarlemNY.

Patterson’s largest work to date – a vast array of ribbons – cascades in light and color from the vaulted arches of the cathedral’s interior, drawing on the shades of stained glass and shadows in the nave of the cathedral, leading viewers’ eyes to elegant architectural details throughout. the interior, newly revealed after years of restoration and cleaning.

In preparation for the installation, Patterson was on hand to oversee the production of more than 1,100 lengths of blue, red and gold fabric. Each ribbon is 75 feet long (approximately seven stories) and when connected will be nearly 16 miles long (longer than the island of Manhattan). The ribbons are then suspended from a 120′ x 30′ aluminum lattice frame and suspended approximately 90 feet above the nave floor of the cathedral. Steel cables run through openings in the ceiling up into the cathedral forest (upper attic space) to support the structure.

Each of the pieces of this massive textile installation speaks of the deepest hopes and thoughts Cathedral and the wider community. Individuals and organizations from around the world Morningside Heights neighborhood in HarlemNew York City and the Episcopal Diocese of New York are invited to literally write themselves into the work by placing their hopes, dreams and prayers on the ribbons themselves.

Public programs and workshops will offer visitors throughout the duration of the exhibition the opportunity to continue adding their highest dreams and desires to the work. The individual prayers will be anonymous and out of sight of the viewer, but their collective presence will create an intimate and immense experience, celebrating the process of cooperation and community itself.

Here is an interview with artist Anne Patterson:

Harlem World Magazine: Who was the inspiration for your art in your site-specific installation at the cathedral?

Anne Patterson: The “Christ in Glory” stained glass was the inspiration for the colors of the piece, specifically because it has a center that is gold and then has a red robe. And then the surroundings are blue and green. So I recreated it in the color layout of the piece. Another thing that has inspired me incredibly is Cathedral in general, because it is probably one of the most beautiful spaces in the world. And of course the grandeur of it is incredibly inspiring… To think that I could even consider creating a piece that measures 125 feet by 75 feet by 30 feet!

HWM: Do you have a favorite place to view an installation?

AP: My favorite place to view the installation is right when you first walk in. I think this is the best place.

HWM: What does the title Divine Pathways mean?

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BYE: I present the long strips of fabric in this work as paths. And these journeys take the hopes and dreams and prayers at the top of these ribbons and spread them around the world. And at the same time, these journeys bring us grace as we stand on the cathedral floor.

HWM: What do you want the piece to achieve?

AP: I want the piece to accomplish several things. But one big thing is actually a celebration of pure beauty. I think we’re moving further and further away from being able to enjoy, whether it’s a piece of music or a piece of literature or a piece of art, just for the sake of the piece itself. And I think there’s so much power in immersing yourself in pure beauty, and in this case, even just immersing yourself in that depth of these colors. It kind of reminds me of going for a walk in the woods and you’re just surrounded by trees and you take it all in and it nourishes and renews you.

HWM: Where did you get the concept for the installation? We love the collaborative aspect of the project, where did you get the idea?

AP: This piece was created at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. We wrote some prayers on the top of the ribbon there, but there was much less involvement from people. And so I felt that it could be a very important part of peace. And I feel now, especially coming out of COVID, that we’re all looking for community and we want to feel like we’re part of a community. And that really contributed to the idea of ​​it. And I also think we’re in a very difficult time, as we all know, between global warming and political animosity. And now it is clear what is happening in the Middle East. And so I think I’m able to give people a forum or a place where they can really write their concerns and also their gratitude. Many prayers were about gratitude. So it was a number of different things that appeared on those letters.

HWM: How will the installation work be seen?

BYE: The exhibition was on view from October 12, 2023 to June 2024.

HWM: Someone once said that “art and politics” are like church and state – separate. What do you think?

AP: Actually, I don’t agree with that at all. I feel that my art is not very political. But I guess you could say it’s political because I’m making these individual statements and you can see how someone might get upset about that. But I totally support political art because I often think it brings to light things that we are not aware of. And I often think that it’s a forum for people to be exposed to things that they might not otherwise have a chance to experience or learn about. Because I feel like it’s kind of like reaching out to someone and saying, Look, look at this side of things. Look, have you ever thought about it like this, instead of being like announcers beating them in the head, I think art is a really great way to get information out to people. So I believe that politics and art can be separate or they can be together, but I don’t think it’s bad that there is political art.

HWM: Why did you use the material (fabric, steel, etc.) for the installation?

AP: I use this material because it is mostly satin. The ribbons I buy for the ribbon section are generally satin on one side and matte on the other. And so when the wind currents catch them, they wiggle a bit and catch the light really beautifully. The inner ribbons or strands of fabric are actually I use this material because it is mostly satin. The ribbons I buy for the ribbon section are generally satin on one side and crazy on the other. And so when the wind currents catch them, they wiggle a bit and catch the light really beautifully. The inner ribbons or strands of fabric are actually fabric that I bought and had laser cut into those thin ribbon-like strips. And these are different fabrics, not only satin, there is polyester, there is chiffon. And two of the ribbons actually came from Mumbai, India. And those are the ones that are really highly reflective. And actually, I’ve never seen such material here. I’m sure it must exist somewhere. But they are ribbons specifically for Indian weddings. And they are pretty fantastic. And that’s what actually gives gold that special pop.

HWM: How is this installation different or similar to your past work?

BYE: It is similar in that it is the same material; it’s very different in terms of scale and the color scheme is very different. The density is quite different. I often make things that are much denser. So it really looks like these big streaks of color that are just floating or lying in space. And here, because we are in this beautiful Cathedral, I wanted it to have more air. So I give space for the spirit to move inside the work and actually all the visitors’ own spirits and their own intentions, so they become a part of it and it’s not some monolithic piece.

HWM: How can our readers stay in touch with you and see more of your work?

AP: They can follow me on Instagram @annepattersonstudio or on my website,

HWM: Thank you.

Photo credit: 1-3). Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

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