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Arlene Shechet in "Secrets"

Arlene Shechet is curious about the obscured origins of industrial objects, folding clues about production processes into her handcrafted ceramic sculptures. With their hollow interiors often hidden from view, Shechet’s sturdy clay vessels disguise their true nature through dazzling surface effects and the illusion of solidity.

For her exhibition Meissen Recast at the RISD Museum in Providence, Shechet juxtaposes her reproductions of original Meissen factory molds made during a residency at the Meissen Manufactory in Germany next to the original Meissen porcelain dating back to the 18th century, revealing the usually hidden industrial roots of those objects.

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Arlene Shechet

Arlene Shechet employs 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. 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.

“Because it has no character, I can make anything. It’s just there to be invented.”

Arlene Shechet on clay

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