(Omaha, NE) – Arlene Shechet’s (American, b. 1951) idiosyncratic sculptures are a study in contradictions, balancing the beautiful with the grotesque, natural forms with human interventions, and humor with stoicism. Although Shechet acknowledges the influence of traditional earthenware vessels on her work, she resists conventional techniques for working in ceramics and has little interest in creating functional objects. Instead, she emphasizes the opportunity for discovery that her chosen medium encourages, saying, “I began working with clay because I wanted a material with a history but also a plasticity that would allow me to make anything. Clay provides an opportunity for building slowly, poking around, and figuring things out while finding what I want to make by making it, rather than thinking it and then making it.” In embracing improvisation and play, Shechet assures that her aesthetic is constantly evolving.
Known for her mastery of glazing while also welcoming the element of chance that accompanies working with ceramics, Shechet achieves alluring surfaces, rich with imperfections. Often, she rests her ceramic constructions on pedestals composed of seemingly more durable materials, such as steel, wood, and concrete. Designed by the artist, these sturdy bases serve as both foil and complement to the lively clay forms they support.
On view at Joslyn June 2 through September 9, Arlene Shechet is included in free general Museum admission. Riley Contemporary Artists Projects Gallery exhibitions are supported in part by Douglas County, Terry & Catherine Ferguson, and Polina & Bob Schlott.