Arlene Shechet’s (American, b. 1951) whimsical, mixed-media sculptures question the boundaries of decorative arts by resisting conventional techniques for working with ceramics. Her objects frequently introduce materials not typically joined with ceramic, such as steel and wood. These unusual pairings reflect Shechet’s interest in conflating sculpture and base, and provide the opportunity to explore surface texture, shape, and color. Chromatic experimentation is particularly important for Shechet, whose masterful glazing offsets her intentionally imperfect compositions.
(Omaha, NE) – Arlene Shechet’s idiosyncratic sculptures are a study in contradictions, balancing the beautiful with the grotesque, natural forms with human interventions, and humor with stoicism. Although Shechet acknowledges the influence of traditional earthenware vessels on her work, she resists conventional techniques for working in ceramics and has little interest in creating functional objects. Instead, she emphasizes the opportunity for discovery that her chosen medium encourages, saying, “I began working with clay because I wanted a material with a history but also a plasticity that would allow me to make anything. Clay provides an opportunity for building slowly, poking around, and figuring things out while finding what I want to make by making it, rather than thinking it and then making it.” In embracing improvisation and play, Shechet assures that her aesthetic is constantly evolving.
Known for her mastery of glazing while also welcoming the element of chance that accompanies working with ceramics, Shechet achieves alluring surfaces, rich with imperfections. Often, she rests her ceramic constructions on pedestals composed of seemingly more durable materials, such as steel, wood, and concrete. Designed by the artist, these sturdy bases serve as both foil and complement to the lively clay forms they support.
On view at Joslyn June 2 through September 9, Arlene Shechet is included in free general Museum admission. Riley Contemporary Artists Projects Gallery exhibitions are supported in part by Douglas County, Terry & Catherine Ferguson, and Polina & Bob Schlott.
About the Artist
Arlene Shechet (American, b. 1951) received a BA from New York University, New York City, and an MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence. She has recently been featured in solo exhibitions at venues including Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., The Frick Collection, New York City, and Contemporary Art Museum St Louis (all 2016); Institute of Contemporary Art Boston (2015); Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC (2013); and Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (2009). Shechet’s work has been included in group exhibitions at venues including Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS, The Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH, and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (all 2017); Brooklyn Museum of Art (2016); and Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (both 2009).
About Joslyn’s Riley CAP Gallery
A 500-square-foot space in the Scott Pavilion suite of galleries, the Riley CAP Gallery showcases nationallyand internationally-recognized artists, as well as emerging talent, selected by Joslyn curators. A rotating schedule of carefully focused exhibitions will examine how artists engage with the world and respond to the issues that challenge them creatively, bringing new perspectives on contemporary art to Nebraska. Riley CAP Gallery artists will be invited to Joslyn for lectures and other public programs, giving audiences the opportunity to gain insight into creative processes and contribute to an expanded dialogue about new art. The first Joslyn gallery dedicated exclusively to living artists, the Riley CAP Gallery represents an important step in making contemporary art an even more integral component of the Museum’s exhibition programming.