Pae White’s Noisy Blushes (2020) is a meditation on movement and time, light and color, material presence and the elusiveness of form. Commissioned by SJMA, this site-specific sculpture soars within the Museum’s thirty-foot high atrium and transforms its entrance into an experiential passageway, delivering a sublime experience for visitors. Comprising 12,000 silkscreened, electroplated and polished stainless-steel hexagonal disks arranged into the sphere and suspended from 504 custom-colored cables, Noisy Blushes is suspended behind a glass façade, allowing it to scatter millions of reflections throughout the Museum’s spacious Harold Witkin Convocation Area and Frank L. and Edna E. Di Napoli Skybridge Gallery. Suspended between SJMA’s 19th-century historic wing and modern addition, the sculpture links the outside with the inside, the past with the present while its colors and design fluctuate with the time of day, the seasons, and as the viewer changes their vantage point.
Born in 1963 in Pasadena, California, Pae White celebrates the mundane, the overlooked, and the ephemeral. Transforming humble materials into exhilarating experiences that defy logic yet remain oddly familiar, her alluring work suggests that things may not be as they appear. Tapestry masquerades as architecture. Typography becomes an interface for sculpture and installation. Paper clay emerges as a vessel for painting and embroidery.
In creating her dazzling mobiles or hanging pieces, White looks to the natural world—flocks of birds, schools of fish, drifting clouds—to produce sculptures without volume and to find order in chaos, freeze framing the elusive found in nature through a geometry. She has experimented with different materials: paper, glass, mirror, stainless steel, and most recently with electroplated steel cut and silk-screened at a factory that produces metal business cards.
Selected from 10,000 options designed with custom software, Noisy Blushes is one of the artist’s largest hanging pieces and her most colorful. Sixty-eight colors sweep through the sculpture through an effect White calls a “blush.” Hues of gold, silver, and rose dominate to acknowledge the entwined histories of quicksilver mining in the town of New Almaden in south San José and the California Gold Rush of the High Sierras. White incorporated a few miniaturized versions of large-scale, geometric wall drawings by minimalist artist Sol LeWitt with designs of her own making, imbuing her sculpture with a multitude of references that addresses many things at once.