For Pat Ligon, art hasn’t always been a core desire. With passions fueled by science, she recalls that her “young brain was lit up by biology” as early as the 9th grade.
Pat attended Florida State University where, as a straight "A" student, she earned a BS and an MS in Biological Sciences and Biology. Her undergraduate and graduate work in genetics, marine biology, physiology, and pharmacology involved working in labs for 4 years, at which time she spent countless hours finely dissecting the hearts and ganglia out of clams and making microscopic slides of plants, first imbedding them in paraffin, then finely slicing them to microscopically study their chromosomes. Unbeknownst to Pat, she was forming her future role as an artist, one where her excellent hand-eye coordination skills, interests in details, and close-up views would later convey as paintings of organic forms in abstract compositions.
Pat was married soon after graduating from Florida State University, where she stayed to earn her master’s degree. She and her husband moved to Texas where their two sons were later born. They both worked at Texas A & M University. Pat was enrolled there in Ph.D. coursework, studying DNA. With their sons just 18 months and 4 years old, Pat sought less demanding work and so became a Tupperware dealer, complete with a company car. After two more moves, they later arrived in Raleigh, North Carolina where Pat desired a degree from North Carolina State University but was told there was no room for her in the program. She knew that North Carolina’s then governor, Governor Hunt, was focused on education so, dismayed but determined, she proceeded to his office to state her case to him in-person. She first told the building’s guard who brought her upstairs to a room, one she describes as “full of white shirts and suits,” where she then proclaimed to the Governor’s Secretary “I have a strong science background and I want to be a teacher. You need to let me get into the university!” The secretary noted her story, name, and number. The next day, the university called her to say “You’re in!” Pat and her family had to move, and she was unable to attend right away, but the university held her spot. Pat returned for coursework later on, eventually serving as a Lab Manager. She later taught chemistry at Raleigh’s Broughton High School, where she developed the school’s first ever Forensics class and became a Kenan Fellow of 3 years.
Pat’s ties to art began later in life, near her retirement, when people would tell her “you need a plan or hobby.” She soon pursued numerous art classes, some of which have included those at Penland School of Craft, and Cullowhee Mountain Arts at Western Carolina University.
Pat resides with her husband Bob in Raleigh, North Carolina where she works as a visual artist. Her paintings have been exhibited at local art galleries and can be viewed online at patligon.com
I create acrylic and oil paintings on panels and canvas. I primarily paint flowers that feature bright, organic forms with distinct shadows and highlights that are often geometric. My visual interest is in close-up details and creating abstract compositions with bold, positive and negative shapes. As a biological scientist, I’ve spent the greater part of my life in laboratories, analyzing and dissecting organic material and looking at organisms under microscopes. This informs and inspires my paintings in that there are similar qualities to that scientific field of study. I think of my painted forms as being alive with movement and energy that is generated by form, color, and the direction of shapes and brushstrokes. I begin my paintings with photographs of florals that I have taken in places like Costa Rica, Kauai, the botanical gardens of Washington, D.C., Prince Edward Island, Canada, and my own neighborhood in Raleigh, North Carolina.
I then translate my photographs into paintings, abstracting and energizing their essence.