For more than 60 years, Pasadena-based artist Helen Pashgian has toyed with the limits of optical perception and material perfection. A pioneer of California’s Light and Space movement, she is best known for hyper-polished spherical sculptures that trap light and radiate colour. The resulting objects are optically majestic – featured recently in a solo exhibition at Site Santa Fe, and in the seminal show ‘Light & Space’ at Copenhagen Contemporary – and lessons in perception. 

In a major Art Icon profile earlier this year, the artist told us that making art was like a ‘divine itch’ (W*276). For her Artist’s Palate recipe, it was an oven-related design glitch that came between Pashgian and her original idea of meringue. The artist kept us eagerly waiting while she ‘recalibrated her oven’ to fine-tune the recipe. When the oven wouldn’t play ball, the artist herself recalibrated with an innovative summer corn dish that she learnt from her grandmother at age ten – it’s quick, easy, and sharpened with a kick of jalapeño jack cheese. ‘This works great for a barbecue. The quick cooking retains the flavour of the fresh corn,’ she says of the dish, which falls ‘somewhere between eating a corn soufflé and corn on the cob’.

Helen Pashgian’s recipe for summer corn (serves 4)

4 white corn cobs
3-4 tbsp butter 
3-4 tbsp cream 
grated cheese, such as sharp cheddar or jack (I prefer jalapeño jack from Trader Joe’s, which gives it a slight kick)
salt and pepper, to taste


With a sharp paring knife, scrape down the corn cobs to remove the kernels and add them to the top of a double boiler set over a pot of simmering water. Add the other ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melted and totally absorbed into the mixture. Serve in small bowls. §