Arlene Shechet: Pentimento in Paper | Art21 “Extended Play”

Arlene Shechet: Pentimento in Paper | Art21 “Extended Play”


[Arlene Shechet: Pentimento in Paper] [Dieu Donné Paper Studio, New York City] [SHECHET] I have this impulse to put a whole
block of color on the wood. [ASSISTANT] Yeah. [SHECHET] The thing that’s unseen is sometimes
way more interesting than what people want you to see. It’s like looking at a construction site– there are the things you don’t see. There are the bones. They can be beautiful. All of these molds have been made in my studio
upstate. And what they are is they’re molds of things
that have happened in my studio as I’m working with the clay. Like, here. These are just my fingers in the
clay. I happened to have a brick that had glaze
on it, so this actually the surface of glaze. See, that is the fire brick. Some of the paper pieces actually have a record
of this clay process. At the end of the day, I’ll say, “Oh, this looks really scenic,” Or, “I like that way that tool makes that
mark.” So they’re actually pentimenti of my sculpture-making
process. I really love the idea of color and form being
one thing. It’s not that I’ve painted on the paper, it’s that the color is the paper and it goes pretty deep into that. –[SHECHET] We could do yellow mush. –[ASSISTANT] This, with a little yellow in
it. –[SHECHET] Or just… –[ASSISTANT] Or just yellow. –[SHECHET] …that bright… [SHECHET] In that way, it’s very similar to
working with the clay, where the glaze and the clay become one thing– one structure–a surface and form. –[SHECHET] So fun. [SHECHET] The thing about working with paper
is the immediacy of that entire process. I love–I love–seeing the thing and responding. –I think it throws it off a little, so… [SHECHET] My assistants say that I make decisions
really quicky. –Chelsea, I think we should just press the
cotton on this. I love that feeling, and for me, maybe that’s being in the zone, like, “Oh, let’s let it rip.” Like, just take this chance because there’s
another one right over there. That’s why I work on five or six pieces at
the same time. –I still would like to see if we can get
some of that mojo going –that was happening with this, –of making the sculpture and tearing away. –Here, check it out. I always talk about this like it’s an athletic
event because it’s just, like, really thinking about
it a lot the day before. It’s basically a month of preparation before
coming in. –24-karat gold! It’s expensive to do this. –Very expensive! And we really need to consolidate our time
and use it. The fun of it is that you were prepared, but
then you don’t know anything. –Oh, and then we have some holes. –Natural holes. Sometimes, the work that we do on a given
layer never shows up. You never know it’s there. Although, I believe in the energy of it underneath. There’s a certain physicality to it that is
exciting to me. –[SHECHET] It might be better this way. –[ASSISTANT] Yeah. –[SHECHET] The terracotta is beautiful! One other way that this is similar to working
in ceramics is that it never looks as good as it looks
when it’s wet. This color is so good, and you mix it, and you love it, and then it dries, and it’s lighter. What I’m always pining for is the wet. It’s closer to the aliveness of the actual
experience. So in ceramics, you make it, it’s wet, you
love it; it’s dry, it looks horrible. You fire the first firing, it looks horrible. And then you have to bring it back to life
with the glaze. [Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston] I got a letter saying, “Show up here and we’ll
teach you how to make paper.” That’s a situation. It doesn’t have any answers, it just provides
a forum. It provides a way to create that lateral expansion
of the practice without knowing where it’s going to go– and I’m hungry for that. I’m in awe of people who do the same thing
for their whole lives; but, it would not fit, in any way, my restlessness and my desire to investigate on a much broader
scale.

12 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *