Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts
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Arlene Shechet: That Time

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Arlene Shechet: That Time

VCU Anderson Gallery
September 7-December 9, 2012

Weatherspoon Art Museum
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
June 15-September 15, 2013

This exhibition offers an up-to-the-minute look at her iconoclastic approach to ceramics, which she began using as her primary medium six years ago. From the start, Shechet has favored 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 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.

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Arlene Shechet lives and works in New York City and upstate New York. She is the subject of much recent critical acclaim, including the cover story of Art in America in January 2012 and New York Magazine’s Top Ten Art Shows of 2010 by Jerry Saltz. Among her numerous awards and grants are a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Art, the Anonymous Was A Woman Individual Artist Award, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant.

Shechet’s work has been exhibited widely, including recent solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, the Tang Museum at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, Kansas. Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Walker Art Center, among many other institutions. Shechet received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and her BA from New York University. She is represented by Sikkema Jenkins & Co in New York, James Kelly Contemporary in Santa Fe, and Shoshana Wayne Gallery in Santa Monica.