pae white. Lisa, bright & dark
Pae White plays exuberantly with the boundaries between art and design. White looks carefully at the objects that populate our world, with equal interest in popular culture and “high” art. She has an amazing ability to transform materials; her wonderfully hybrid objects claim a quirky social space. For example, White’s hypnotic paper mobile is partly a hip, formal play on modernism, partly libertarian decoration, partly a brilliant evocation of nature.
White amplifies the “artfulness” of everyday things, to use her term. Books, advertisements, barbeque grills, a shopping bag, even a theatre curtain become the objects of her witty elaborations and re-constructions. She looks far beyond the question posed by Charles Eames: “Who ever said that pleasure wasn’t functional?”
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White titled this exhibition after a favorite teen novel by John Neufeld, Lisa, Bright and Dark, 1969, © SG Phillips. The installation is organized, accordingly, into Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arta “bright” and a “dark” gallery, which suggest opposite psychological moods. The artist thus refers to the complexity and the duality of the human psyche—to our propensity to swing between the “bright” and “dark” sides of our natures. In the “bright” gallery, three of White’s signature paper mobiles become a magical forest of lively colors and free-floating whimsical shapes. In the “dark” space, richly hued objects of weighty materials like bronze and cast iron create a meditative, somber environment. Throughout the gallery space, White’s intricate craftsmanship and inventive use of surprising materials will charm viewers.
Pae White is one of the most significant women artists participating in the international dialog about the intersection of art and design today. She embraces a wide range of artistic traditions, from the work of the Bauhaus to Charles and Ray Eames to Isamu Noguchi. Born and raised in Pasadena, White uses a palette inspired by the era of the 1970s, for example the floral scarves of Vera and the anti-war posters of Sister Mary Corita Kent.
The catalog accompanying this exhibition is the first major U.S. museum publication on White’s art, which is widely shown abroad. Designed in close consultation with White, it includes an interview by Hans Ulrich Obrist, co-director of exhibitions and programs and director of international projects at the Serpentine Gallery, London, and texts by Cassandra Coblentz, implementing curator, and Marilu Knode, originating curator and now assistant director, F.A.R. [Future Arts Projects], Arizona State University, Tempe.
Organized by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Sponsored by the Peter Norton Family Foundation and the SMoCA Salon.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment of the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.