Pae White at Mills College Art Museum

Pae White at Mills College Art Museum

Mills College Art Museum

Pae White: In Between the Inside Out
Installation view, Mills College Art Museum, 2009
Photo: Paul Kuroda
September 21, 2009
Pae White at Mills College Art Museum


IN BETWEEN THE INSIDE-OUTCurated by Sandra Percival

Mills College Art Museum

In Between the Inside-Out

White’s installation In Between the Inside-Out proposes new paradigms for art and landscape—from digital imaging to hand-crafted natural phenomena and stoneware ceramics— that challenge the presumption of singularity in much site-specific art as encapsulated in Richard Serra’s famous dictum “to remove the work is to destroy the work.”

Using a noninvasive data collection and mapping procedure, White had three-dimensional scans taken of an 800 year-old massive oak tree, a wild raspberry bush and a Manzanita grove in the landscape near Nevada City, California. For White, there was a hierarchical standing: the “dying” oak, revered and sacred; the raspberry bush, deciduous and fleeting; the grove, a pervasive backdrop. White uses these scans as conceptual source material, working with animators and visual effects artists to create a series of color-treated, morphing point cloud animations: Dying Oak, Ballerina (Wild Raspberry Bush) and Redeeming Brown: Manzanita Grove. In White’s installation, viewers enter into three mirrorpane glass trapezoidal chambers in which they are immersed in these images, surrounded by reflected and refracted light. White’s sculpture and animations take immersion to infinity as the landscape reflects endlessly beyond the glass pavilion into the light and space of the Museum. Viewers are thus confronted with living organisms that are at once intimately known and yet entirely untouched.

Collections are inherently embedded in White’s work—from the rarefied and artistic to the humble. As a material rather than an ethereal element of the installation, White incorporates two ceramics collections: one, the extensive and eccentric collection of ceramics drawn from the collection of Nevada City’s Joseph Meade and the other, drawn from the Museum’s collection. Both collections represent in large part the American studio ceramics movement of the 1920s to 1960s. Meade’s collection of over a thousand ceramic vessels embraces anonymous and well-known ceramic artists, thrift store and flea market finds, and shares some of the same names as the Museum’s collection. The Museum’s collection, much of which is derived from the gift of the Antonio Prieto collection, places Mills College at the epicenter of the American studio movement with works by current and former Mills’ faculty Carlton Ball, Ron Nagle, and Antonio Prieto and other renowned artists such as Robert Arneson, Viola Frey and Peter Voulkos. Unlike the projected animations, these collections are resolutely physical and tactile. Displayed as massed fields on plinths, these stoneware objects deconstruct the relationship of nature to culture.

A scattering of leaves leak out from two rooms in the gallery—nature or artifice? The leaves are nature as artifice—every single leaf and its elements were crafted and touched by hand using fabric, metal and fire. Unlike the idiosyncratic nature of these works, the process of high definition scanning depicts with total accuracy every pore, every crack, every leaf of the oak tree and other native species of the Sierras, yet they remain intangible in their constantly mutating digital form. The leaves carry a poetry of place using language to describe California locations and seasons: Sick Amour (Sycamore leaves of Los Angeles in the fall) and November Gutter Leaves, Pasadena. Set within the Museum’s Beaux Arts architecture and outside its own emblematic landscape, White’s In Between the Inside-Out allows nature in its multifarious forms to invade the normally sacrosanct space of the Museum as conservatory.

White brings the viewer back to the academic setting and intellectual discourse of Mills College with the inclusion of Talking About Reading 1989-1991—a compendium of all her assigned readings and notes from her academic experience at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. Each volume is hand bound with a cover embossed with a brushstroke and, when lined up, the collection of books is ordered by a pangram (a sentence using all the letters of the alphabet only once): A Fjord Nymph Begs Luck. The red letters on some of the book spines drop out of the pangram—accidents and imperfections, representing for White that which is not complete or resolved—points upon which her next journey may commence.

Born in 1963 in Pasadena, California, Pae White’s recent solo exhibitions include In Between the Outside-In at New Langton Arts, San Francisco; Smoke Knows at 1301PE, Los Angeles; Point, Counterpoint, Cloud at Xavier Hufkens, Brussels; Lisa, Bright & Dark at Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, VI; Too Much Night at neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Pae White, Hammer Projects at UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and In no particular order at Milton Keynes Gallery, UK. She has participated in Fare Mondi/Making Worlds, Venice Biennale 2009; Tales of Time and Space, Folkestone Triennial, Folkestone, UK; and Projekte Münster 07; as well as in group exhibitions Directions at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; and The Americans: New Art at the Barbican Centre, London.

Pae White’s exhibition In Between the Inside-Out is made possible by the LEF Foundation, FOR-SITE Foundation, Mills College Art Museum, New Langton Arts and a San Francisco Arts Commission Organization Project Grant.

Public Programs:
Wednesday, September 30, 7:30pm
Lecture by artist Pae White

Danforth Hall, Art Building, followed by a tour of the exhibition in the Museum

Multiple: Five Black Nesting Bowls
Pae White’s multiple, Five Black Nesting Bowls, precisely casts the metaphor of the double title of her two part project: In Between the Inside-Out and In Between the Outside-In. The exterior of the bowls document the interior of the grinding holes. Five granite boulders—bedrock mortars known as grinding rocks—remain scattered across the Sierra landscape, used for centuries by the Maidu as places to grind acorns and seeds for food. By press-molding the grinding holes of one of the boulders, White has fabricated a set of five black nesting bowls from hand-harvested clay embedded with cattails. The bowls are raku-fired using resinous plants including Kit Kit Dizzy, pine needles and cannabis.

Edition of 10, 2 APs
For price and availability please contact [email protected]

Mills College Art Museum
5000 MacArthur Boulevard
Oakland, CA 94613
Directions: 510.430.3250
Information: 510.430.2164

Museum Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11-4pm; Wednesday 11-7:30pm
Admission is free for all exhibitions and programs.

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September 21, 2009

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