Museum Exhibitions

Arlene Shechet at Storm King

Published On Tuesday, Jan 09, 2024

Storm King Art Center is pleased to announce (opens in a new window)Arlene Shechet: Girl Group, the most ambitious exhibition yet of Arlene Shechet’s outdoor sculpture, and the first to pair this body of work with her iconic indoor ceramics. On view May 4–November 10, 2024, the exhibition will debut six new large-scale commissions—spanning heights of ten to twenty feet and lengths of up to thirty feet—along with complementary indoor works in wood, steel, and ceramic. Shechet’s Girl Group responds to and expands upon the legacy and techniques of post-war and contemporary sculpture at Storm King through the artist’s signature emphasis on process, color, and form.

Girl Group asserts a feminine sensibility across Storm King’s hills, fields, and galleries. This series of sculptures adapts the monumental vocabulary of Storm King to Shechet’s unique voice. Recognized as a leading sculptor who has radicalized ceramics, Shechet now takes on industrial materials and inaugurates a new phase of her work. She brings an array of vibrant colors—pinks, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, and purples—to Storm King's terrain for the first time. The works in Girl Group incorporate nature as material by harnessing it as negative space and reflected image.

Artist Arlene Shechet says, “For a sculptor, Storm King is ‘the promised land’: a landscape of rolling hills, mountain views, and fields populated with significant works by renowned artists. I am honored and thrilled to join the dialogue at this historic place and coax it forward with my exhibition Girl Group.”

“This exhibition is exemplary of Storm King’s collaborative approach to exhibition making—the creative support we offer and our incomparable landscape invite artists to achieve new and ambitious directions in their practice,” said Nora Lawrence, Storm King’s Artistic Director and Chief Curator. “Arlene’s work is bold and audacious, and visitors will certainly feel the pulse of the new sculptures she has created for Storm King across our landscape.”

Arlene Shechet: Girl Group has grown from the artist’s work in ceramics—specifically her recent Together series—which will be displayed in the Museum Building galleries. Developing the new outdoor sculptures over the course of three years, Shechet prioritized process and improvisation over pre-conception by alternating between digital means and intuitive handmade methods—always finalizing with the handmade. While large in scale, the works retain the sense of gesture, touch, and bold color found in the artist’s earlier lauded artworks. The new sculptures are comprised of welded and constructed steel and aluminum, each incorporating two colors shifting from glossy to matte, as well as planes of unpainted metal. Shechet’s expertise with color is evident in her palette. Far from standard or primary, the colors for Midnight (2023-24) are between pink and orange; for Rapunzel (2023-24), somewhere between blue and purple. The particularities of the sculptures’ forms and lines impart an idiosyncratic character rare to encounter at this scale, seeming to teeter at the edge of physical possibility.

Eric Booker, Storm King’s Associate Curator says, “Arlene’s sculptures resist static definition, eschewing differences between beauty and humor, industrial and handmade, and even front and back in favor of a more contradictory and vibrant reality. Taken together, the works in Girl Group challenge preconceived notions of monumental sculpture, revealing the ways in which Arlene has continually reinvented the sculptural form.”

As distinct as each individual sculpture is, Girl Group functions as an ensemble. Like a musical band whose harmonies the show’s title evokes, Shechet’s sculptures make rhythms together. Installed throughout the landscape and gesturing dynamically toward one another, they create frames for nature and sky. Experiential works that change as a viewer moves around them, the sculptures’ stillness prompts the viewer’s movement. And for those who wish to pause and further contemplate the works, a new series of artist-designed benches provides seating close to Shechet’s spirited outdoor forms.

Arlene Shechet: Girl Group will be on view May 4–November 10, 2024, and will be accompanied by a robust calendar of public programs, including an outdoor performance produced in collaboration with Shechet. The exhibition is co-curated by Storm King’s Artistic Director and Chief Curator Nora Lawrence and Associate Curator Eric Booker, with Adela Goldsmith, Curatorial Assistant.