Prime Matter in Sweden

International drawing show organized by Christopher Schade, Madlen Herrström, and myself that explores the range of aesthetic approaches within the narrow material parameters of basic drawing, on exhibit at the Teckningsmuseet in Laholm, Sweden.

NYFA Fellowship in Painting

So thrilled and honored to announce that I am a 2015 Fellow in Painting from the New York Foundation for the Arts!

"Contradictory Patterns and Decorative Illusions"

A fabulous review by Patrick Neal on Hyperallgeric!

Zoe Pettijohn Schade: CROWDS at Kai Matsumiya Gallery

CROWDS (Thursday, March 26th - Saturday, May 9th)


Kai Matsumiya presents Zoe Pettijohn Schade’s solo exhibition “Crowds” at the space and will represent its first pure painting presentation. The verb “crowd” overwhelms and preoccupies, and as a noun, it refers to a large number of things collectively. These works uncover the complex relationships among structural patterning and its disruptions.

The weaving of images that are loaded with associations (monkeys, cotton-candy colored tombstones, feathers, decapitated kings, etc.) creates a dense field of relationships and meanings that are conceptually/historically rich. The images and the structures that organize them explore both the aspirations and the pitfalls of order. Her work is extremely labor intensive, as a painting (16”x22”) requires nearly two months for completion, and is composed of layers of images each of which is invented and executed by hand.

For the past decade the artist has been researching the obscure tradition of French gouache pattern painting for textiles from the 18th and 19th centuries.  This work led to a Fulbright Research Scholars Grant to Paris in 2013, during which she strove to absorb the wild visual invention and genre disrupting approach of these anonymous painters and trained her hand in their language of intricate mark making. As an acknowledgement to her inspiration from this tradition, the show will include nine paintings from the early 1800s, courtesy of the Design Library in Wappingers Falls, NY, the world’s largest collection of design patterns. The exhibition will also present her meticulous studies in the form of drawings.

Reflecting on her work, Pettijohn Schade writes: “I try to achieve maximal density of layers in my paintings, both as a reflection of our experience in an image saturated world, and as a model of the structure of the unconscious. The unconscious is a potent reference for me in that it is a space where images and associations accrete and exert a kind of furtive power, like an elemental force that colors meaning.”

Crowds is scheduled to open on March 26th. (7:00-9:30). Please email or call (617) 678 4440 for more details

October 16 - December 6, 2014
Opening Reception: Thursday, October 16, 2014 6-9pm

Gallery hours: Tues-Sun 12-8pm

229 Centre Street
NY, NY 10013


Prime Matter

The idea for this show began with the desire to see the range and abundance of approaches that arise from one of the most fundamental modes of art making- basic drawing.  We thought it would be illuminating to see how different artists used drawing in their practice.  Living in New York we are surrounded by an amazing peer group of artists and we wondered how drawing functioned for them especially since it’s oftentimes a part of their process that is not shown. As a way to focus this conversation we applied narrow material parameters:


-        All work is A4 (8.5 x 11 inches) or smaller

-        All work is black, white or grey-scale

-        All work is an original piece on a single sheet of paper


From this simple source comes an extravagant array of approaches from the diaristic to the diagrammatic and spans from elegant and refined finished works to raw gestural explorations.


The notion of Prime Matter as a material that carries within it the potential for any other form originates with Aristotle.  This idea is elaborated on by Thomas Aquinas in his explanations of change, and in the alchemical tradition as a raw material that has within it the components for all other forms, including the perfect form.  The wild diversity that arises from this fundamental mode of art-making is a corollary to this ancient notion of potentiality of matter.  


Zoe Pettijohn Schade and Christopher Schade

September 24, 2014


Exhibiting Artists include:
Michael Alan
David Ambrose
Nils Folke Anderson
Mike Arvan
Nichole van Beek
Michael Berryhill
Gianluca Bianchino
James Bills
Jeff Caramagna
Michael Christy
Marc Connor
Vince Contarino
Alec Dartley
Peter Dudek
Raymond Dumas
Will Duty
Anna Ehrsam
Alyssa Fanning
Chie Fueki
Patricia Gaeta
Nancy Goldring
Everest Hall
Sue Havens
Madlen Herrström
John Hodany
Michael Holden
Jackie Hoving
Grant Huang
Colin Hunt
Serban Ionescu
Charles Irvin
Erick Johnson
Josh Jordan
Clint Jukkala
Sara Klar
Philip Knoll
Jesse Lambert
Michael Lee
Carlos Little
Joshua Marsh
Norm Paris
Katherine Patterson
Gary Petersen
Alexandra Posen
Noah Post
Lucy Pullen
Jon Rappleye
Laurie Riccadonna
Enrico Riley
Gina Ruggeri
Christopher Saunders
David Sena
Christopher Schade
Zoe Pettijohn Schade
Edouard Steinhauer
Sarah Steinwachs
Dan Sutherland
Emma Tapley
Matt Tiernan
Sarah Walker
Sandy Winters
Rachael Wren
Geoffrey Young


Zoe Pettijohn Schade in the New York Times Magazine

Now That’s Old-School

In an art world that encourages hugeness, the painter Zoe Pettijohn Schade emphasizes tiny repeating forms, juxtaposing hungry sharks against the most intricate lace. She takes inspiration, she tells Bomb magazine, from textiles and 18th-century gouache pattern paintings and from echoes of those patterns in present-day life. Then and now, repetition and hidden understructures soothe us as monsters play and “hide in plain sight.”

Interview by Alyssa Fanning on Bomblog

Very excited about this great article!

Mona Bismarck American Center Exhibition, First Floor Salon

Solo Show at the Mona Bismarck Center for American Art and Culture in Paris, runs through May 19th

Fulbright U.S. Research Scholars Grant

I am excited to announce that I have been awarded the 2012-13 Fulbright U.S. Scholars Grant to Paris. It is to continue my drawings of a rare collection of gouache pattern paintings from the 1700s at the Bibliothèque Forney, and make full scale paintings in response. The grant is for six months beginning in February, 2013. I am so thrilled and honored!

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