Arlene Shechet was born in 1951 in New York City. Fascinated by the way things are made, Shechet likens her studio to both farm and factory. Employing an experimental approach to ceramic sculpture, she tests the limits of gravity, color, and texture by pushing against the boundary of classical techniques, sometimes fusing her kiln-fired creations with complex plinths formed of wood, steel, and concrete.
By incorporating casts of firebricks and porcelain slip molds into her sculptures (revealing the tools of industry), she reflects on and investigates the tradition of decorative arts. Variously sensual, humorous, and elegant, her clay-based vessels evoke the tension between control and chaos, beauty and ugliness, perfection and imperfection. Considering herself an installation artist who happens to make objects, Shechet focuses intently on ensuring that the display, sight lines, and relationships of the objects in her exhibitions change with every view while maintaining formal equilibrium.
Arlene Shechet received a BA from New York University, and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design (1978). She has received many honors, among them an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award (2011); Anonymous Was A Woman Individual Artist Award (2010); Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant (2010); Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2004); Artist Fellowship Grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts (1999, 1993, 1986); and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1986-87).
Major exhibitions of her work have appeared at the Phillips Collection (2014); RISD Museum (2014); Weatherspoon Art Museum (2013); Anderson Gallery, Richmond (2012); Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (2012); International Ceramic Biennial (2010); Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (2009); Tang Museum (2009); ICA Philadelphia (2004); Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (2004); Henry Art Gallery (2003); and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (2000). Arlene Shechet lives and works in New York and Woodstock, New York.