Riel Pakinson ‘46 Lives Three Lives
Perhaps she would have traveled a rather dull career path had she not changed her major every year while at Scripps in an effort to explore her varied interests. As it stands, she describes her career as having “three distinct but overlapping parts: painter, theatrical designer, and political activist.” She maintains that each area of interest is informed and shaped by the others and has resulted in a deeply satisfying professional-and personal- life journey.
After Scripps, Ariel moved to Berkeley, where she earned a master’s degree in English in 1948. Post-war Berkeley offered a culture and energy she could not resist, and her professional interest in political activism and the world of fine art took flight. She resides there still.
Her geographical proximity to San Francisco has afforded her multiple opportunities to delve into the world of theater and the three-dimensional arts, and she enjoys a career as an award-winning technical and visual designer for San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco Opera, San Jose Repertory, California Shakespeare Festival, as well as several prestigious Southern California venues. Her success is due, in part, to her ability to incorporate and direct the visual with the text and subtext of the drama, and the result has been called by critics “inspired,” “compelling,” and “worth the price of a ticket.”
Caught up in the political activism of Berkeley, Ariel made use of her multiple talents as designer/writer/lecturer/documentary producer for organizations such as the Regional Parks Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the University of California, and the Environmental Protection Agency. A film on garbage that she created for the EPA, she proudly recalls, resulted in an appointment by then-Governor Jerry Brown to the California State Waste Management Board and the opportunity to publicly champion her cause of recycling and waste management.
Perhaps Ariel’s deepest passion, however, is for her painting, which she classifies as abstract expressionism along the lines of Chagall and Morris Graves. Exhibited in numerous galleries and museums including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, her work has been hailed by critics as “fantastic images that are convincing and logical,” and her style “flowing from reality toward vision.”
Her advice to fledgling Scripps artists? “Allow your passion for art to be strong, but not all consuming. Pursue other interests as well, and let each avenue of exploration expand and develop your art.”
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