How Paky Vlassopoulou Puts Love, Care, and Community Back into Her Art
By Alexander Strecker
Marble columns; soaring arches; celebrated monuments that have stood for millennia. So often, it is these structures that stand in for “culture,” the proud embodiments that we mentally refer to as emblems of our civilizations. But in reality, they are the exception, the ostentatious outliers. So much more has been built over the span of human history using softer, mutable, ephemeral materials, such as wood, clay, and straw. And even more invisibly, there are those structures that underlie all of society, never taking a physical form at all: feeding, cleaning, caretaking, loving.
When we talk about shaping society, it is the imposing institutions that we are likely to think about first: parliaments, courts, and banks. But these towering peaks of stone and steel rarely take the time to acknowledge the interstitial materials they are built upon. It takes the prodding of an artist to remind us that we can lower our gaze from those that strive to reach the heavens, and find great beauty in our overlooked earthly underpinnings. Not only that, but if we truly want to shape society, it is in these unspoken spaces where we must focus our efforts.
This is the field which Paky Vlassopoulou explores in her work. Trained as a sculptor, Paky has confidence in her talents for formal and artistic production. But lately, her interests have expanded to examine how physical objects and shared spaces are interwoven within vast, underappreciated webs of invisible work. She continues to sculpt, but the materials she utilizes have evolved to include social ties, emotional bonds, and intimate relationships.
From early on, the social element of art was on Paky’s mind. Indeed, when she first began her education, she didn’t even think she would become an artist. Rather, she imagined she would organize concerts, exhibitions, and other gatherings to bring people together. But she quickly realized that she couldn’t live on the phone and behind a keyboard, only arranging events and programming for others. She re-committed to the idea of making art itself and started…