Public Sculpture Archive puts the ‘wow’ back in public art

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Kathryn Vetter Miller (L) and Sylvie Lake (R) are Public Sculpture Archive. Photo by Avishay Artsy/KCRW

There's art that's a commodity and disappears into private collections. Then there's public art. Drive around Los Angeles and you will see public sculpture everywhere. Hundreds of artworks, of all shapes and sizes. But do you notice them? Oftentimes not.

A project called Public Sculpture Archive is trying to change that.

DnA producer Avishay Artsy interviewed Sylvie Lake, an artist who climbs on or poses next to these public artworks, wearing monochromatic skin-tight costumes; and Kathryn Vetter Miller, the photographer who captures and disseminates the images on Instagram, altering perception of the artworks and their role in public space.

About their interventions into artworks hidden in plain sight, the artist/model Sylvie Lake says LA is a set. “Everything here has been invented and nothing here really feels real... It's so much fun to play on these sculptures here because they just feel like props in a set where you can project what you want onto it.” 

The photographer Kathryn Vetter Miller is a psychologist by profession, “and so much of what I do is about inviting people to a more mindful state. And working with the sculptures and bringing them back to life does bring life back into them, and brings people into a more conscious state with their environment.”


Double Ascension by Herbert Bayer, 1973. Downtown (515 S. Flower) Los Angeles


Friendship Knot (1981) by Shinkichi Tajiri in Little Tokyo


Mobius Bench II (2003) by Vito Acconci, Shops at Lake Avenue (401 Lake), Pasadena.


Hymn of Life: Tulips (2007) by Yayoi Kusama, Beverly Hills.


Drive-By Art (1992) by Lars Hawkes, at edge of Highway 170, at northbound Sherman Way on-ramp, Valley Glen.


“Trench, Shafts, Pit, Tunnel, Chamber” (1978) by Bruce Nauman, Citigroup Center


Arrogant Man and Surprised Woman (1986) by Viola Frey, California Mart patio.