Visiting Artist Lecture Review #1

Lindsey Cannon

Visiting Artist Paper



Arlene Shechet just honored by Art in America as being one of the finest ceramists known in the twenty-first century. Her ability to alter forms through papermaking, plaster and clay are only definitive’s to original expression. Shechet has recreated the social perspective of what is acceptably valued through rebellious formation by constructing each piece through an intrepid process.

She is mostly known for her earlier works through manipulating plaster as a medium, giving birth to her practice as an artist and the discovery of Buddhism. This Eastern influenced developed as a continuous theme through out her work framing the iconic image of the Buddha, Stupa and the connection to enlightenment. One of her most known works is Mountain Buddha, which was made in 1994. This piece embodies this overlapping process of layering mediums of paper pulp, hydrocal, acrylic paint skins and plaster. This piece exemplifies the process of life. Each individual consists of these “layers” that have ultimately influenced and changed their initial being. Shechet’s explanation for the notorious applicant of paint skins throughout her work is that it allows her to “paint without canvas.” This connects to the whole ideology to the Buddhist religion and Eastern heritage, applying her array of mediums as an expressive act of freedom and practice. The artist identifies her figure prints as a building process of painting, drawing and sculpture.

Another example of her work was influenced from this iconic figure of the Buddha  were Stupa architectural plans. This refined relic also connected to the Mandala plants and a place where one can find a sense of clarity. This theme introduced a method of plaster, which invited a chaotic scene of flooding each piece through a dissolution process. It was a production for the unknown resulting product. The Stupa architectural reliquary containers raise a domestic version of depository and ceremonial objects. Shechet created one hundred paper vessels and their plaster molds mirroring it’s form. This piece evokes commemoration and a silenced memorial for loved ones lost. These vessels were relative toward Japanese porcelain vases, relative to the blue and white arrangement of its original form.

Shechet’s work progressed into ceramics, building complex sculptures out of clay and glass.  Inspired by  the artist Otto Dix,  Shechet’s work took on a distorted disposition through coiling her mediums and creating precarious structures. Her  fascination with the three dimensional object and the embodiment of transforming the environment of the viewer is represented in every form. Glass Blower and Beside Beside both illustrate this empowering relationship of objectification. Glass Blower is a crystal rope instillation that is woven through the walls in an act of commemorating sailors in a retirement home. This blue river holds the room together and exemplifies both fragile and durable purpose of the object. Beside Beside is similar to the glass form because it has created the illusion of instability. Coiled clay is horizontally stacked to an uncomfortable elevation. This piece possesses insecurity, which connects to the artist sporadic process of developing these forms.

The artist’s muse is directed to the conscious and unconscious action of experience continuously growing and learning from each form and centralizing with the object. Her work represents between the secular and sacred recreating abstraction with the unpredictable.

One Response

  1. Not a bad paper but you really need to focus on spelling and grammer. Even within the very first sentence. There are a lot of grammar mistakes that make many of your sentences almost frustrating to get through. Make sure you double check next time!!! ;) This artist sounds very interesting though. The way you explained her work and ideas behind the pieces definitely intriques me enough to check her out online. Good focus within the paper, but a couple proof reads would do a lot!

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