This exhibition of sculptures by Arlene Shechet offers an up-to-the-minute look at her iconoclastic approach to ceramics. Shechet favors improvisational methods and a trial-and-error process over methodical and technical facility. At once comically awkward and elegantly poised, her paradoxical forms teeter, lean, bulge, torque, and reach in multiple directions at once, defying their own weight. “In fact, often things do collapse or fall over, and many don’t make it, but I love working on that precarious edge,” she says of her process. “For me, this has obvious emotional, psychological, and philosophical meaning.”
Shechet’s latest works combine a cartoonish demeanor with painterly effects. She constantly tests glazes and uses eccentric color combinations with an experimental disregard for traditional firing temperatures and techniques. The resulting variations in hue, texture, and opacity create complex, highly visceral surfaces. Similarly diverse, the bases she makes for her sculptures cover a wide range of shapes, sizes, and materials—from roughhewn timbers to painted kiln bricks and welded steel. Each is designed for a specific piece and is integral to its completion. Once installed, the finished works populate the space of the exhibition like so many characters, suggestive of both the imperfections and possibilities implicit in the human condition.
Arlene Shechet (lives in New York City and upstate New York) earned her BA from New York University and MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Shechet’s work has been exhibited widely, with recent solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; Tang Teaching Museum, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY; and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS. Her work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Brooklyn Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Walker Art Center, among many other institutions. Her numerous awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Art, Anonymous Was A Woman Individual Artist Award, and Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant. She is represented by Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, James Kelly Contemporary, Santa Fe, and Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica.