ALYSON SHOTZ: FORCE OF NATURE
SOLO EXHIBITION AT THE RUTH AND ELMER WELLIN MUSEUM, HAMILTON COLLEGE, CLINTON, NY
OCTOBER 11, 2014 - APRIL 5, 2015
This fall, the Wellin Museum of Art will present a dedicated, solo exhibition of new and recent work by Brooklyn-based sculptor Alyson Shotz, whose practice examines the properties and interactions of light, gravity, mass, and space. Opening October 11, 2014, Alyson Shotz: Force of Nature will showcase a broad range of the artist’s creative output. The exhibition—Shotz’s most ambitious to date—will feature over fifty works including large-scale sculptures, prints, ceramics, a wall drawing, and an animation, many of which are on view for the first time.
Shotz will create several new and site-specific works, including a fifty-foot wall drawing comprised of white linen thread strung on carefully sited nail heads in the exhibition gallery. Hamilton College students will assist her in the realization of the installation. Expanding the exhibition beyond the Wellin’s galleries and into the museum’s iconic Archive Hall, Shotz will create a band of vinyl decals, which will be on long-term view, that produce the effect of etched glass on a section of the 27-foot-tall glass display cases. The delicate etchings, comprised of forms resembling ovals in rotation, will echo and reinforce the shape of a new, suspended sculpture by Shotz commissioned by the Wellin Museum for its collection. The commissioned work, entitled Lemniscate, is reminiscent of a Möbius strip exploring the geometric concept of a continuum—a shape without boundaries or end. This is the first work that the Wellin Museum has commissioned specifically for its permanent collection.
“This exhibition marks the first time that the Wellin will devote its entire gallery space to a single artist,” said Tracy L. Adler, exhibition curator and director of the Wellin Museum of Art. “We look forward to having Alyson Shotz realize her unified vision for the integration of her work throughout the museum, including a featured work outside the main entrance and the site specific vinyl etchings created for Archive Hall, in addition to the entirety of our 6,200-square foot gallery. We also look forward to introducing her to the Hamilton College campus, which emphasizes the cross-fertilization of ideas across a range of subjects. Her artistic practice bridges disciplines and draws on scientific methods, mathematical principles, and literature, making her work a perfect fit for the Wellin’s interdisciplinary approach to exhibition programming.”
The monumental sculptural installation Invariant Interval furthers Shotz’s ongoing explorations of materiality and will be a major focal point in the gallery. Creating an almost paradoxical relationship between form and mass, the sculpture’s structural elements act as its surface. The 20-foot by 30-foot, shimmering sculpture, comprised of stainless steel, spring-tempered wire, and silvered beads, defines a vast space, but has an ethereal, insubstantial quality. Suspended from the ceiling, the weight of the silvered beads causes the sculpture to arc, rotate, and droop. This dynamic movement reflects Shotz’s interest in topology—the mathematical study of the continuous deformation of shapes and space through stretching and bending, as well as her interest in space-time—any mathematical model that combines space and time into an interwoven continuum. The denser areas of the sculpture allude to warped space and compressed time.
Time and how it is experienced is of particular interest to Shotz, whose well-known video artwork Fluid State traces a dawn-to-dusk cycle of an undulating ocean of reflective spheres. At the Wellin, she will debut a new animation inspired by Van Gogh’s painting Bedroom in Arles and the last scene of Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey which is set in an alien version of an Earth-like bedroom. Depicting a modernized version of Van Gogh’s bedroom, the animation’s three eight-minute segments will examine the passage of time through the play of sunlight and starlight in the room. In one segment, water floods and recedes from the bedroom— a reference to Hurricane Sandy, which flooded Shotz’s studio in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn. Shotz is collaborating with animator Todd Akita, and drummer and musician Nasheet Waits, who is producing the soundtrack.
“I’m fascinated by the suspension of time and isolation one feels in both bedrooms that Van Gogh and Kubrick have portrayed. The animation will highlight the strange, yet seemingly commonplace experience of living on a planet in space, rotating around a sun, through a series of day and night cycles,” said Shotz. “I’m also thrilled to be collaborating with Nasheet on the soundtrack. Time seems to contract and expand when one hears him perform.”
Another series of works in the exhibition explore chaotic behavior—how the outcome of an
action is unknown and different each time the action is undertaken. Recumbent Folds, a grouping of ceramic works, is shaped by chance. Shotz creates each object by wrapping porcelain white clay around a tube and then dropping it on the floor. Shotz then gently removes the distorted cylinder, ostensibly leaving behind a record of the moment of the crash. Topographic Iteration, a meta and non-traditional series of prints, is also influenced by chance. To create a print, Shotz crumples a sheet of white paper and then photographs it. The photograph is printed on the same size and type of paper, which is then crumpled again to create a final object that is both a photo of an original physical object and a real physical object in and of itself.
Alyson Shotz: Force of Nature, which runs from October 11, 2014 through April 5, 2015, is
organized and curated by Wellin Museum Director, Tracy L. Adler. It will travel to the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston where it will be on view from May 21 through July 11, 2015. A fully illustrated, hardcover, monographic publication will accompany the exhibition. It will feature essays by Veronica Roberts, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas, Austin, and Nat Trotman, associate curator at the Guggenheim Museum, New York City.
Concurrent to the Wellin’s presentation of Alyson’s new and most recent work, Shotz will also be exhibiting at Derek Eller Gallery from October 10 through November 8. Highlights of works on view will include the artist’s signature thread drawings and a bronze version of the ceramic work Recumbent Folds.
About Alyson Shotz
Alyson Shotz’s work has been featured in recent solo exhibitions at the Visual Arts Center at the University of Texas, Austin; the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum (East Lansing, Michigan); Indianapolis Museum of Art (Indianapolis, Indiana); Espace Louis Vuitton (Tokyo, Japan); Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas, Texas); Wexner Center for the Arts, (Columbus, Ohio); Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Connecticut); and Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art (Ridgefield, Connecticut); among others. Shotz’s work has been part of recent group exhibitions including Contemplating the Void and The Shapes of Space at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The More Things Change at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Light and Landscape at Storm King Art Center, and Material World: Sculpture to Environment at MASS MoCA. Shotz was the Artist in Residence at UT’s Visual Art Center in 2013, the Sterling Visiting Professor in the Department of Chemical and Systems Biology at Stanford in 2012, and was recently granted a Stanford University research fellowship in 2014. She received a Pollock Krasner Award in 2010, the Saint Gaudens Memorial Fellowship in 2007, and was the 2005-2006 Happy and Bob Doran Artist in Residence at Yale University Art Gallery. Shotz received her MFA from the University of Washington in Seattle, and her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
About the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art
The Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College opened in October 2012. The
museum promotes interdisciplinary research and the cross-fertilization of concepts and ideas vital to a liberal arts education. The museum works with emerging and established artists and collaborates with Hamilton students and faculty to develop programming promoting a widerange of disciplines. Designed by Machado and Silvetti Associates, the museum includes a 27-foot-high visible archive, 6,200-sqsquare-foot exhibition space, and other amenities that foster common exchange and learning.
White Fold, 2015 Wet spun white linen thread, pins 14ft H. x 49ft L. x 2in Invariant Interval, 2013-2015 Stainless steel wire, aluminum collars, glass beads 20ft h x 16ft w x 15ft d (609.6 x 487.6 x 457.2 cm) Black Folds #1-5 Folded and painted aluminum Various dimensions
Imaginary Sculptures, 2014-15 Enamel on steel, 20 variations 3 x 12" (7.6 x 30.5 cm) each Edition of 10 Lemniscate, 2014 Welded aluminum 62 x 94 x 57 in. (157.5 x 238.8 x 144.8 cm)
Progression, 2014 24 Vinyl etchings on glass approx. 52 x 52" (132 x 132cm) each
The Bedroom, Time Lapse, 2014 Animation, 27:49 min Digital animation: Todd Akita Sound Composition and performance: Nasheet Waits Emergent Structure, 2015 Latex print on vinyl 211.25 x 201.75" (536.5 x 512.4cm) Spiral for LB Mirror-polished stainless steel 65 x 15 x 15" (165 x 38 x 38cm) Recumbent Folds. 2014. Unglazed porcelain Unglazed porcelain on reclaimed wood table 78 x 28 x 38 in.(198.1 x 71.1 x 96.5 cm). Each sculpture approx.: 16" diam. x 19" h. (45.72 x 30.48 cm)
Frames Per Second. 2011 Cut acrylic, velcro 94.5 x 240” (240x 609cm) Sequent. 2013. Portfolio of five color aquatints with collagraph embossing 13.75 x 13.75” (34.9 x 34.9cm) Published by Crown Point Press Sequent II. 2013. Portfolio of five color aquatints with collagraph embossing 30.25 x 29.75” (76.83 x 75cm) Published by Crown Point Press Fundamental Forces. 2011. Suite of 6 silver gelatin prints on fiber paper, mounted on 2-ply museum board 18 x 24” (45 x 60 cm) published by Carolina Nitsch
Photos: John Bentham and Heather Ainsworth