Visiting Artist – Arlene Shechet. Dasha Silva

Dasha Silva

ARTH 3539

Visiting Artist Lecture Boulder – Arlene Shechet

From 2/7/12

This very personal visiting artist lecture by Arlene Shechet not only conveyed her feelings about her work and her personal experiences very well, but also evoked feelings in me. Working with many different types of simplistic mediums such as clay, plaster, paper pulp, and glass, and influenced by Buddhist culture, Shechet was able to show how personal and meaningful her work is to her, making it more meaningful to me than if I had just seen it in a museum. Beginning the lecture by saying that “death is something that is not addressed,” and going on to tell a story of how she lost a friend around the same time that her children were being born, Shechet shows that she is aware of the events that change one’s lives and how those events have influenced her work.

Shechet is influenced by the artist Otto Dix and is also marveled by 3D objects, making her work interesting to look at. She enjoys using simple objects and having the use of icons present in her work as reminders of “how to behave.” One aspect that is really intriguing about her work is that her personal experiences became really important, making her pieces speak to different people in different ways, which I really love. Shechet is aware of the process of creating a piece, and is always interested in the next step, similar to in a performance. She also does not stress over how a piece should turn out, and knows that mistakes are going to happen. I also liked this about her, because this outlook on making art is very similar to how I feel about my work. I make mistakes all the time when I’m creating a piece, and I somehow have the ability to almost never get upset about it and realize that it was meant to be.

Shechet is very inspired by stupas in Buddhist culture as areas of worship and places to reach enlightenment and she has plans of stupas in her work. One piece that she showed during her lecture was a ceramic piece titled “100 Vessels and Their Molds.” The piece is made up of small sculptures with blue and white colors and each piece is balanced on top of its own mold that is upside down. This piece also relates to the stupa theme because the ceramics are containers. Another piece of hers titled “Out of the Blue,” which is a sculpture of ropes made out of crystal, which she has said to reference the flow of rivers. “Mountain Buddha,” from 1994 which is made out of overlapping paper pulps, plaster, acrylic paint skins, and hydrocal, is one of her more well-known pieces that references the process of life. She explains that everyone has layers that have influenced and changed their lives from how they were initial born. Shechet has expressed her love for using paint skins, which she says allows her to “paint without a canvas.” This medium also connects to Buddhist culture because the the bundle of different types of mediums express freedom.

Overall, I really enjoyed Arlene Shechet’s lecture about her work. Although her pieces weren’t really my style, I really enjoyed her attitude towards herself, her life, and her work. I absolutely loved the story about her personal experiences with life and death, and hearing her talk about this really moved me. I was really moved with the fact that her life situations have related so heavily in her work, because this is also something that I try to incorporate in my own work. I have always thought that art with a personal story is so much more interesting that pieces that come from a completely random place, and so this became my favorite part of watching this lecture.

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