Arlene Shechet’s recent glazed ceramic objects float, twist, and puff up atop stacks of unadorned concrete, plaster, wood, and steel. While Shechet has worked in sculpture for over two decades, these new works shift away from her earlier explorations of iconographic Buddhist imagery toward more abstract forms and combinations. Confounding any single reading, they hover in the fertile space between East and West, secular and sacred, and modern and ancient.
Shechet’s modeled surfaces demonstrate how clay mirrors the artist’s touch. Her objects bear the mark and memory of her hands. The sculpture's bulges, hollows, spouts, and holes evoke bodily features, and as the artist notes, are “suggestive of the curving forms found in classical Indian sculpture.” By coating the clay with eccentric color combinations and metallic glazes—created with an experimental disregard for traditional firing temperatures—Shechet not only fractures the objects’ surfaces but also undermines any single association with nature. Seeming to expand and deflate like a breath, Shechet’s dynamic works continually transform, as they reappear anew moment by moment.
Born in New York City, Arlene Shechet received her BA from New York University and her MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Her work has been exhibited at numerous venues, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (2009), the Walker Art Center (2009), the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2008), the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (2008), the Rubin Museum of Art, New York (2007), Real Art Ways, Hartford (2005), and Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2003). She has created on-site installations at the United States Embassy, Beijing (2008), Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, Woodstock (2007), the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York (2001), and elsewhere.
Opener 18: Arlene Shechet: Blow By Blow is organized by Ian Berry, Susan Rabinowitz Malloy '45 Curator of the Tang Museum, in collaboration with the artist. The Opener series is made possible with the generous support of the New York State Council on the Arts, the Overbrook Foundation, and the Friends of the Tang.