Art review: Megan Cotts reanimates family history

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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.