Arlene Shechet

Tall Feather

A large porcelain and wood sculpture against a blue sky

Arlene Shechet, Tall Feather, 2017-18, glazed porcelain, white oak, cast concrete, and steel. Image: Bryan Zimmerman

Arlene Shechet is a sculptor known for her effortless combination of disparate elements, precarious and provisional arrangements, and boundary-collapsing visual paradoxes. Stacking different materials atop each other, her artworks convey a playful sense of imbalance or incongruity. Shechet’s shape-shifting artworks also push against entrenched categories within the arts, such as the distinction between a sculpture and its pedestal. For Shechet, plinths and bases are as integral and inventive as the sculptures that rest upon them.

Tall Feather enchants with a sense of humor and incongruity and relates to Shechet’s fascination with pleasure gardens and sculpture parks where art, play, and nature entwine. The imagery in Tall Feather can be traced directly to a porcelain fragment in another work by Shechet called Crazy Yolk Garden (2012), completed during her 2012-2013 residency at the historic Meissen porcelain factory in Germany. Meissen was the first place in the Western world to produce porcelain in 1710. Several years later Shechet chose to translate this centuries-old material by collaborating with American sink and toilet manufacturer Kohler to create Tall Feather. She notes, “Moving from Meissen in Germany to Wisconsin permitted me to transform a material that is marginalized as “fragile and female” into something that is “monumental,” durable and resilient. At this scale, the interior language of the decorative arts becomes reinvented for the outdoors.”

About Arlene Shechet

Shechet (American, b. 1951) was born in New York and works in the Hudson Valley. She received a BA from New York University (1970), and an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design (1978). Shechet has received numerous prizes including John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2004), Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant (2010), and CAA Artist Award for Distinguished Body of Work (2016). The artist’s works are included in the collections of Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. She has numerous solo exhibitions including at the Harvard Art Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Frick Museum, and Rhode Island Museum of Art.

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