Arlene Shechet. So and So and So and So and On and On, 2010. Glazed ceramic and glazed kiln bricks. 51 1/2 × 43 × 33 inches (130.8 × 109.2 × 83.8 cm). Gift of Barbara Lee, The Barbara Lee Collection of Art by Women.
In a career spanning over twenty years, Arlene Shechet embraces chance when making sculpture dictated by materials that change from one state to another before solidifying as a finished object. So and So and So and So and On and On is one of Shechet’s most significant works, marking a new direction within her practice. A ceramic sculptural diptych, the work is composed of two round, glazed forms displayed on top of irregular stacks of kiln bricks. The large, fleshy pink heads—whose color references, among other things, the paintings of one of Shechet’s heroes, Philip Guston—function as three-dimensional vessels for the gestural application of color. They are glazed so that the roseate colors layer in zigzagging paths across textured surfaces, with eyelike blue dots interspersed. The glazed and stacked kiln bricks, some white, some outlined thickly in black, are readymade pedestals for the bust-like, handmade ceramic forms. As integral features of Shechet’s sculptures, pedestals dynamically contrast with the elements they support. Here, the columns of kiln bricks reference the process by which the larger forms came into being, gesturing at the presence of the kiln itself as the arbiter of material transformation. Such interplay of forms demonstrates the artist’s dedication to challenging sculptural conventions, grounded, as she says, by “an experience of sculpture as a language for transmitting information, feelings, beliefs, and thoughts.”