I can feel its presence, this collage. It comforts the corner of my office, and through it, I feel the spirit and beauty of its creator. This is the effect of the work of my friend — artist and visionary, Virgie Ezelle-Patton.
Virgie Ezell-Patton’s work has taken her beyond the canvas. Every fall, Yogi, Dr. V.G. Kulkarni, from Karnatak, India, visited Cleveland for 3 months, and Patton held weekly meditations facilitated by him. She opened her home to the Cleveland community and spiritual people of every tradition — Hindu, Native American, Christian, Muslim, Jewish. They gathered to hear Dr. Kulkarni, to meditate, to break bread, and to celebrate the spirit of oneness. Kulkarni also had special sessions for the children. “It was a wonderful unifying group,” says Patton.”I held weekly meditations for 37 years,” she adds.
During his visits, Dr.Kulkarni also conducted fire ceremonies. On the day of the fire ceremony, Dr. Kulkarni would shower and dress at Patton’s home, in preparation. “Flowers and fruit were a big part of the ceremony,” says Patton. “There was an altar, and people would come with their relics for blessings.” They would write down what they wanted to release from their spirits and burn the notes in the fire. Patton used this experience as an expression of her spirituality. And this clearly reflects in her artwork.
“I would sit before each painting for 20 minutes to channel creative energy,” says Patton. “I was creating spiritually.” One painting Patton created had all the elements — earth, wind, fire, air. “It was spiritual, without effort,” says Patton. “It won Best in Show for the Stouffer Award.” She entered that same piece in another show. At the exhibit, Patton was mingling with people in the lobby, when a gentleman walked up to her and asked, “Is that your painting?” She asked, “How did you know?” He answered, “I see you in the work.”
Patton’s work has been seen in many exhibits, including one at the prestigious William Busta Gallery in Cleveland, OH. Her mural dresses the wall of the Case Western Reserve Historical Society building. She has also been in and out of Cleveland’s programs for children. Patton was the Director for the gallery of the Cleveland School of the Arts. “The kids were bussed from schools to see my exhibit at the William Busta,” says Patton. “I also worked with kids at the Cleveland Neighborhood Center.” At the age of 5, Patton’s parents were summoned to her kindergarten. “The teachers said I had abilities beyond that of a 5 year old.” Patton recognizes the importance of art appreciation for children.
Patton has a big family, with 5 children, 13 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. When asked what represents light to her, Patton answered, “The Holy Spirit.” It is truly the spirit that resides in her work.