Nancy Pletos, Blackboard House, 1983. Paint, fabric, straw, glitter on carboard in frame.


Each of Nancy Pletos’s artworks drag the viewer into a quiet bubble of her own world; her deepest loves entangled in a single sculptural snare. Her art is equal parts whimsical and calculated, sprouting from the intersection of geometry and nature. Although often filled with mathematic forms, Pletos’s work seems to spiral into infinity rather than arrive at any definitive conclusions. Her sculptures emphasize potentiality and how one can make the everyday extraordinary, or see the extraordinary that has already silently run rampant underfoot. Perhaps this is why she favors wood above any other as a material; it is something beautifully and tirelessly crafted before human hands ever make contact. 

Compared to Pletos’s usual heaping of rhinestones, mirrors, vibrant glosses and other odds and ends, Blackboard House is rather reserved. Even in a what appears to be a two-dimensional drawing, Pletos has added numerous three-dimensional elements. A single slate grey house fills the dark wooden frame. It is surrounded by twiggy trees and static scribble. A tuft of straw puffs out from the chimney while the sun and the moon hang opposite each other in the sky and capture the in-between of dusk or dawn: the magical possibilities of the uncertainty of light, or the lack thereof. The house could be read as a home for the soul, hanging in the balance of change as a shifting constant. 

Nancy Pletos attended Wayne State University pursuing a degree in mathematics. She ultimately found herself within the art department, from which she received her B.A. in 1972. She continued on to receive her MFA in painting from Wayne State in 1974. Although she worked around and under Cass Corridor artists such as John Egner, she created a style in many ways distinct from the Detroit based movement incorporating less industrial grunge and more natural texture and form. 

Written by Samantha Hohmann