“I believe my objects,” said artist Dianne Pappas at the January 11 opening of her latest installation, “Recall”, situated on the campus of the Archer School for Girls in Brentwood, California. Pappas was an Archer School Artist in Residence in 2012 (www.diannepappas.com).
Her objects are full of surprises. Their weight when held, and their sound when touched, are part of their sensory message. When photographed, they appear huge, even monolithic, yet in actuality they are approachably, accessibly small. Some objects, like Pappas’ “Installation Kits”, consisting of shaped wooden pieces, hot glue, paper, tacks, tape and waxed twine, fit seductively in the hand.
Another surprise: while Pappas’ work is influenced by the mysterious sculptural forms of Cycladic art, which have endured for millennia, this artist’s materials are deliberately selected for their modern sense of impermanence, and their lightness of being. Paper, vellum and tape are among her favorite media.
She frequently repurposes found objects into her installations. In the case of “Recall”, she rescued a trio of vintage steel lockers from the Archer School trash. As objects, these tall, slim containers (lockers 34, 35, 36) trigger adrenalin-spiked memories. In my case, touching the calmingly smooth, cold, beige, metal carapace of the locker, with its fluted vents and raised number-plate, sent me back into the chaos of my first day of 7th grade in a sprawling New York City public school. Finding my locker in that push-pull panic, its number appearing as enigmatically as a coded message on my Ouija board, felt like grabbing the sides of a life-raft.
This sense of the lockers, and their numbers, as messengers of order, offering structural rescue from mayhem, is also suggested by Pappas’ use of waxed twine which passes from the left to right, through side-openings in the lockers. Given the Hellenic references in Pappas’ work, I was also reminded of the myth of Theseus, led out of the Minotaur’s Labyrinth by following a ball of thread unrolled by the loving Ariadne.
Numbers and mathematics play a role throughout this installation, which was organized and presented by fellow artist and Archer School instructor Patti Meyers, Gallery Director at Archer, who teaches a course for girls interested in curatorial studies, gallery and museum management and other business-related aspects of the art world. Meyers’ students served as guides and docents at the exhibition opening.
Pappas, who attributes her interest in mathematics to her “practical Greek father” who had his doubts about his daughter’s career in art, holds a B.A. in both Mathematics and Studio Art as well as a Master of Fine Arts degree. She worked as an executive in the corporate world for more than a decade before turning to art full-time.
“The beauty of mathematics is that it gives us a symbolic vocabulary with which we attempt to define our very imprecise world,” she says. “Art attempts to do the same thing. Both disciplines uncover more mysteries in the process of finding answers.”
You may view “Recall” at the historic Archer campus until March 1, 2013 by appointment only. The campus is located at 11725 Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Please feel free to call Patti Meyers at (310) 386-7458 to schedule your visit. www.archer.org