Art review: Megan Cotts reanimates family history

In her first exhibition at Klowden Mann, L.A. artist Megan Cotts delves into her family's history as the inventors of “honeycomb paper,” the stuff of pop-up party decorations.

Using late-19th century patent drawings, Cotts has produced sculptural objects that not only mimic the process of turning flat paper into three-dimensional shapes, but also reanimate her family history.

One of the first pieces we see is a plain, rectangular canvas that has been tucked and stitched into an all-over pattern of interlocking diamonds. This “painting” paradoxically adapts the 3-D, honeycomb structure to a flat format.

Taking this tension further, Cotts has turned the original patent designs into thin, free-standing or hanging aluminum sculptures. Here, the 2-D engineering drawings, which appear as small silk-screen prints on a back wall, have literally become three-dimensional. The works flicker back and forth between idea and realization, like half-remembered family tales.

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After going to such lengths to revitalize history, it's surprising to find in the back room a project by D3, an “object divestment” service created by Cotts, Ali Prosch and Brica Wilcox. The women offer to destroy objects which clients find “emotionally burdensome.”

In a video, the three perform a dance of destruction on a model of Barry Manilow's recording studio created by a fan. It's gleeful yet somewhat contradictory; one wonders if Cotts' evocative sculptures might someday suffer the same fate.

Klowden Mann, 6023 Washington Blvd., (310) 280-0226, through April 19. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.klowdenmann.com

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