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Artists often see the unimaginable in materials that seem ordinary or mundane to us non-artists. One such visionary is Tahiti Pehrson, a California native whose manipulation of ordinary material makes his media decidedly extraordinary. Pehrson’s story begins when he decided to leave art school after dreams of becoming a painter became de-romanticized. He left behind traditional materials such as oil and canvas to channel a seemingly limitless form of art by way of graffiti and tagging. The wide expanse of brick walls offered the artist a welcome contrast to what had previously felt overwhelmingly rigid and unnecessarily structured.
In the midst of tagging the streets of Northern California “ducking cops and angry people,” as the artist describes, Pehrson shifted artistic gears once more. His new direction led him into an unexpected full circle bringing him back to a canvas of sorts. He rediscovered the simplest ubiquitous material that had been around him all along—paper. From there the artist began to cut, shape, and mold it into something the average eye would never envision. In his latest project for Art at Viacom, “The Journey of Light,” Pehrson took about 300 feet of paper and transformed it into a monumental series of suspended towers, framed miniatures, and a tall sculpture that encourages visitors to step inside.
The idea of transformation is the nexus of Pehrson’s current work. Having worked with paper as a sculptural medium over the past ten years he has tested the material’s limits and created monumental forms. In “The Journey of Light,” he takes on the ambitious task of creating a multi-part installation that reflects a personal journey that he is faced with in the present day—a daughter moving closer to young adulthood and a father in his last phase of life. Pehrson explores these layered, intersecting moments in life by way of repetitive sequences, some of which are mathematical, that fill the composition of each piece. Each work offers a different series of patterns that uniquely engages with shadows and light.
The towering 13-foot sculptures in the entrance of 1515 Broadway present a series of patterns that form what appears a blooming lotus flower, a fitting symbol in an installation that abstractly maps the journey of a soul. Also, included are delicate framed works that surround the perimeter of a centrally positioned sculpture. Visitors, who are encouraged to step inside the work, are able to see Pehrson’s craftsmanship from the outside in as the spiraling patterns encompass the entire four-paneled sculpture.