1 JUNE - 29 AUGUST 2004
The Shape of Space, by Brooklyn-based artist Alyson Shotz, is the third installation in Rice Gallery’s Summer Window series, which features installations that can be viewed through the gallery’s front glass wall while the gallery remains closed for the summer.
To create The Shape of Space, the artist and her assistants hand-cut more than 18,000 ovals from Fresnel Lens magnifying plastic. Named for its inventor, 18th century physicist Augustin Jean Fresnel (1788-1827), a Fresnel Lens is flat on one side, ridged on the other, and was first used to build lighthouse lenses. Shotz chose sheets of lightweight, flexible Fresnel Lens plastic that is sold in wallet and page-size format and is used to magnify text. Like the original lens, the plastic sheets are imprinted on one side with a series of concentric grooves that act like tiny prisms to bend and refract light. This innate structure, as well as the patterns Shotz formed when she stapled the ovals together - dense in some areas, sparse in others - create a curtain that dazzles the eye as it captures and magnifies thousands of images.
Reflection is an ongoing subject of Alyson Shotz’s work. Often, she uses mirrors as a device to explore how we perceive nature and assign meaning to it. For her seminal performance work Untitled (Reflective Mimicry), 1997, Shotz wore a fully mirrored bodysuit, to which she attached hand and back pieces with long, flexible wire extensions. Shotz attached mirrors to the tips of the wires, which allowed her to animate her surroundings and to blur the boundaries between her body and the landscape. Shotz’s outdoor installation Mirror Fence, 2003, likewise questions perceived limits. A 138-foot long standard-sized picket fence faced with Plexiglas mirror, Mirror Fence reflects nature’s changes through the seasons, thus becoming one with its environment.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in Glendale, Arizona in 1964, Alyson Shotz received a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, Providence in 1987, and an MFA from University of Washington, Seattle in 1991. Recent solo exhibitions include The Simple Forms (2004) at Ingalls & Associates Fine Arts, Miami; Alyson Shotz: A Slight Magnification of Altered Things (2003) at The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY; and Alyson Shotz (2003) at Derek Eller Gallery, New York. Group exhibitions include Yard: an Exhibition about the Private Landscape that Surrounds Domestic Architecture (2003) at Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY; Larger Than Life: Women Artists Making it Big(2003) at Susquehanna Art Museum, PA; and Mirror Mirror(2002) at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), North Adams. In 2004, Shotz received a New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellowship in Painting and a Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Fellowship. Alyson lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She is represented by and Derek Eller Gallery, New York.