Jeannie Pappas’ works embody the conflicting psychological and emotional states that we experience. Adopting figurative sculpture, most often in clay porcelain with light washes of underglaze, Pappas evokes the tensions that persist between body and mind, playful and horrible, grotesque and endearing. Her figures are at once strange and familiar, personal and archetypal, inscrutable and intimate. In each case, the artist motions toward narrative, as if her strange creations are embroiled in some drama. Yet, this is suggestion only; the power of these artworks lies in our ability to write the story ourselves. While resolved as figures, the works of Jeannie Pappas remain pregnant with possibility, malleable to the activity of the viewer.
I grew up in Cabbagetown, one of Canada’s most diverse neighbourhoods, the youngest of four children of immigrant parents. This became the ground of my experience: a world of individuals torn between the safety of community and the quest for freedom through assimilation. It is from within space that I seek to expose the interplay of the familiar and the hostile other.
My work reflects the condition of uprootedness and estrangement. It probes the search for meaning and identity within the shadows of the strange and bounded by disruptive narratives of normalcy and belonging. It explores the left-behind refugees, rejects, and delinquents who are drawn to the very norms that have cast them out, characters who reside within a homeless space between past and future, self-possession and alienation, assimilation and native fealty.
My figures suggest narratives of tension: between body and mind, play and drudgery, the grotesque and the beautiful. Both individual and archetypal, these figures repel and attract, giving grace to the human made monstrous by conventions that shun in order to preserve the purity of their systems. In each I invite viewers to write their own stories, to reflect on their masks and their own Janus-faced identities.
Visit Jeannie Pappas' website here.