Helen Pashgian (b. 1934, Pasadena, CA; lives and works in Pasadena, CA) is a pioneer and pre-eminent member of the 1960s Light and Space movement in Southern California. Over the course of her career, Pashgian has produced a significant series of sculptures comprised of vibrantly colored columns, discs, and spheres that often feature an isolated element appearing suspended, embedded, or encased within. Using an innovative application of industrial epoxies, plastics and resins, Pashgian’s works are characterized by their semi-translucent surfaces that appear to filter and somehow contain illumination. For Pashgian, she thinks of her works as “‘presences’ in space—presences that do not reveal everything at once. One must move around to observe changes: coming and going, appearing and receding, visible and invisible—a phenomenon of constant movement. It touches on the mysterious, the place beyond which the eye cannot go.” Trained as an art historian with a focus on the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, Pashigan’s reverence for Johannes Vermeer, the painter of light, has been fundamental to her longstanding interest in the effects and perception of light. While she has always gravitated towards experimenting with non-traditional materials, her primary concern has always been to maintaining light as the object and subject of her work. For Pashgian, light is not simply a metaphor, symbol, or allegory; light itself is both the medium and the message.
Helen Pashgian received her BA from Pomona College, Claremont, CA in 1956 and MA from Boston University, Boston, MA in 1958, and also attended Columbia University, New York, NY 1956-57. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles (2014); Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, CA (2010); and Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA (2007). Select group exhibitions featuring her work include Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2011), travelled to Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, CA (2011) and Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany (2012); Translucence: Southern California Art From the 1960s and 1970s, Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA (2006); The Senses: Selections from the Permanent Collection, Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, CA (2006); and Inaugural Exhibition, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, CA (2002). Her work can be found in numerous public and private collections internationally, including Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA; Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA; Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont, CA; Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; and Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA.