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Art professor Moser turns Bigfoot into performance art

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Art professor Patrick Moser steps into the world of film to create art based on the famous mythical creature.

As a child, Patrick Moser remembers being freaked out the first time he saw the famed Patterson-Gimlin footage from 1967 that supposedly documented the creature known as “Bigfoot” traipsing through a California forest.
Now, that uneasiness he felt when introduced to the footage has led Moser, the chair of the art and design department at Flagler College, to venture into the realm of video, culminating in a piece he calls “Patty Goes” which was recently screened at the Fundada Artists’ Film Festival in Wakefield, England.

It was during a research sabbatical that Moser began composing the short film consisting of 400 individual stills streamed together to make a moving image of the mythical creature.

“I’m trained as a painter, but I live in the same world you do — this world of technology,” said Moser who described the film as “painted animation.” “I love film, movies and video and I’ve always wanted to play with animation, essentially making the material move. It was really just a trial to see if I could do it.”

Moser says the pet project was his escape when work got tough elsewhere.

“What I would do is when I would get frustrated working on other projects, I’d come back to this,” Moser said. “It was such a labor-intensive process that I didn’t have to think about it. I could just get lost in it.”
And while the idea of 400 individual stills sounds like an enormous undertaking, Moser is quick to point out that it’s not as intimidating as it sounds.

“It basically is 400 individual stills, but they aren’t individual paintings,” he explained. “I’d create an image, take a picture, maybe make a couple marks, then take another picture.”

But why devote so much time to a (possibly) fictional creature?

“I think that footage is kind of performance art and I appreciate the lengths those guys went to construct it, so I was kind of trying to celebrate it,” Moser said.
Moser wasn’t always so sure about the artistic path he’d undertaken. Although he was always the kid who could draw really well in school, like most young students, Moser didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life and ended up in business school, silently harboring dreams of being an artist.

“I didn’t realize I’d made a mistake until I graduated,” he said. “I was in interviews with companies and I saw what I would be doing with my business degree that I realized I’d made a horrible mistake. That’s not a slight on business; it’s just that for me I didn’t realize what it meant for my everyday life. As soon as I sat in on meetings where I had people interested in me and there was a possibility that I’d be working in that capacity, that’s when I knew I couldn’t wait to do this.”

After returning to school and earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at East Carolina University and Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Florida, Moser began teaching painting and drawing classes at Flagler College in 2000.

“Initially I didn’t want to be a teacher because I thought I had more important things to do. But as soon as I began to do it in graduate school I realized how rewarding it was and that it was an area where I could grow creatively,” Moser said. “Every artist’s fear is that teaching will stifle creativity but that has not been the case.”

Eleven years later, Moser finds himself the chair of the art and design department and his fears of having his creativity stifled have been allayed. His works have been published in periodicals such as the National Forum Magazine and New American Paintings, and can be found in collections from New York to Sarasota, thanks in part to the faculty and students he works with in the art department whom Moser credits for helping to inspire him.

“The art department isn’t somewhere to come to just hang out. Students will come and they’ll really get challenged and have to work. We’re very fortunate to have the tools we have,” said Moser, referring to Flagler’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program, the Molly Wiley Art Building and the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum. “Those things have allowed a department that’s extremely strong and gifted to realize its potential. We are at a moment where we’re really operating at optimum capacity creatively because we have the resources and an incredible faculty to do it with.”

But Moser says he wasn’t always so quick to open himself up completely to teaching.

“When I started teaching, I tried my best to sequester my private creative energy,” he said. “I would save a lot more for myself to sort of maintain an autonomous activity. I made this sort of promise to myself that I would only keep teaching if I could maintain my work because as a studio teacher, if you’re not making stuff, you become an imposter really quickly in the classroom.”

Over time he allowed himself to let go of that hesitation and cites that as a direct influence on his work and something that has enabled him to progress as an artist. That progression has allowed him to further his work into projects like “Patty Goes.” And though Moser appreciates the accolades he’s garnered with the short film, such as acceptance into the Fundada film festival back in July, he says that, like most of his work, he did it mainly to please himself.

“I think for me it’s that I just really want to see what something looks like,” Moser said about his inspiration for creating his art. “I just have a desire to see these things. But within that, there’s a presumption that if I can realize it, it will have some value to somebody. But trust me I have a house full of paintings that no one wants to look at.”