Arlene Shechet’s Genre-Defying Experiments with Ceramics and Paper
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One is struck by the attention to color in Shechet’s practice, and by the depth of her surfaces. “Blockbuster” is unified by a jewel-toned palette set against monochrome: deep blues, pastel purples, and bright greens decorate both the ceramics and the set of pigmented paper casts of items in Shechet’s studio. These works, which were created using a process developed in collaboration with master papermakers at New York’s Dieu Donné—an institution that fosters contemporary art through hand papermaking—conflate ceramics-making and two-dimensional art techniques by repurposing a traditional drawing material, paper pulp, to create sculptural forms.
Shechet describes the goal of her work as a balancing act: “I try to make things that are hybrids. And I deal with the history of art. There are conversations with contemporary art, historic art, industrial objects, nature, but if it goes too far in any direction, I destroy it,” she says. Viewed through this lens, the works in “Blockbuster” seem to pulse with a set of contrasts: light and dark, clumpy and geometric, trace and presence, as Shechet pushes and pulls to create settled forms with distinct personalities that owe all to the process of their making.
— K. Sundberg