Pat Badt, Sprites, 2012-2014

Pat Badt, Sprites, 2012–2014, oil on wooden slab with live edge; 53 x 8.5 x 1 in. (right), 72 x 8.5 x 1 in. (left)

The story of Daphne and Apollo, and two scraps of wood, inspired Pat Badt to make Sprites. Leaving the edges “live,” she covered the slabs with paper and imitated the texture of their wood grain with oil paint by applying ruddy striations on the surface, achieving remarkable flesh tones reminiscent of Egyptian and European painting. She considers the taller, darker one male and the shorter, paler one female: though separate, the pair uncannily cleaves each to the other in complicit harmony.

The piece evokes weather—red electromagnetic “sprites” that flare in the troposphere—and cloud-to-ground lightning bolts as a definition of desire: the spontaneous discharge of energy through a charged atmosphere. Sprites explores what it means to be a pair, emphasizes the necessity of division and union in nature as a terminus for things to happen, change and change again. Intervening minimally, Badt delivers poetic empiricism.

Part of Passing Bittersweet, a 2020 exhibition at the Williams Center Gallery. Find more of Pat Badt’s work at