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Art & Life with Allison Paschke

Today we’d like to introduce you to Allison Paschke.

After her first eight years growing up in RISD’s backyard (both parents were alums), Allison spent her childhood moving around the country with her artist mother. As an only child, she spent much of her solitary time creating tiny objects. Small living spaces and an itinerant lifestyle developed her interests in portability and the miniature.

Her first BFA at UC Santa Cruz focused on photography, a pursuit that led to a lifelong interest in light. Eventually, she found her true voice through porcelain: its delicacy, its materiality, and its paradoxical durability and fragility. During this time, Allison lived in a series of tiny apartments with two active toddlers. The living conditions helped to develop her inclination toward minimal, soothing work.

Allison attended Kansas City Art Institute for her second BFA in Ceramics, with an emphasis on wheel-thrown pottery. Very thin and translucent porcelain became her primary focus. While earning her MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art, she shifted toward sculpture and began experimenting with other translucent and delicate materials such as treated tissue paper and epoxy resin.

In 1999, she and her family returned to Rhode Island. Having more studio space has allowed her to work on a large scale, though she continues to make small, intimate works. Her current work explores geometry and light through wall pieces and installations. She uses reflective and translucent materials such as mirrors, porcelain, acrylic gel mediums, and resin. Her work is often interactive in terms of touch, light, and sound.

In recent years, she has exhibited in solo and group shows in Providence, Brooklyn, San Francisco, and other locations nationally. Her work is included in national and international private collections as well as in several corporate and museum collections. She curated three installation exhibitions in the Providence area, and since then has become part of a wonderful network of artists in Rhode Island and beyond.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Almost all of my work is interactive. Sometimes movement through space and light affects the experience; sometimes the interaction is directly physical. I am looking for a present tense engagement that opens into layers of association and meaning. My process is an intuitive balancing of the tensions between opposing forces.

Object vs. Place:
While each wall piece, sculpture, or installation consists of physical objects, it also creates a place for the mind. The altered mirrors are soft distorted worlds to move past and peer into; The installations become worlds inside tiny porcelain elements; the small box sculptures form hand-held rooms, and so on.

Geometry vs. Imperfection:
The attraction toward geometric simplicity is followed by a desire to add subtle complexity. For example, a perfect porcelain cube slumps in firing, or a simple square mirror develops richness and variation with the addition of translucent layers. Geometry is abstract perfection; imperfections introduced by materials and process prevent sterility.

Subtlety vs. Intensity:
To reduce, simplify, and visually quiet an image leads to the magnification and intensification of visual phenomena. Cracks and wrinkles are rich and tactile on an all-white porcelain surface. Shifts in texture between brush strokes and tiny bubbles become significant in a context of almost monochrome amber-colored resin.

The Miniature vs. the Vast:
Each piece shifts between tiny and huge. Large wall and installation pieces are filled with thousands of tiny details that pull viewers into an intimate closeness. Tiny sculptural or wall pieces contain areas of emptiness that open out into a void. The porcelain boxes are hand-held size but contain a glowing world of indeterminate scale.

Two vs. Three Dimensions:
The impulse to enrich a flat surface balances a desire to simplify a dimensional object, and so each piece lies between two and three dimensions. For example, a translucent resin block is both a solid object and a permeable plane. In mirror paintings, because compositions are kept simple and open, reflections bring in the dimensionality of the piece’s context.

Fragility vs. Immortality:
The ephemeral is especially beautiful to me: the passing of light and the delicate and fragile. Trying to capture these things is a futile bid for immortality. Porcelain is an ideal material to express this paradox, as it is both easy to break and durable for centuries in the earth. Amber resin is another material associated with preservation of insects and plants over thousands of years.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
The way I found my community was to put together a group show of installations related to architecture. The site was in a loft slated for demolition, perfect because people could cut into walls, remove doors, etc. I organized it so that the artists came together in a cooperative effort to gallery-sit, bring food for the opening, etc. It was a fabulous way to meet and get to know wonderful artists and to meet the people that they brought in to see the show. Since then I have curated two more pop-ups in Providence and am putting together another one in New York City.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
At the moment I have work in a show from the permanent collection at the Newport Art Museum in Newport RI, and at Cade Tompkins Projects, Providence RI. Several major projects are scheduled for early 2019. People can see my work on my website at or in my studio in Providence. I also enjoy doing commissions. There are two private collectors in LA who each have several of my pieces.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @allisonpaschkeart
  • Facebook: allisonpaschkeart

Image Credit:
Mark Johnston

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