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Alyson Shotz: String Theory, The Big Bang, and Dark Matter

This fall, Alyson Shotz will have three solo shows – Carolina Nitsch in New York (September 12 – November 15), Derek Eller in New York (October 10 – November 10), and the Wellin Musem of Art upstate (October 11, 2014 – April 5, 2015). In anticipation of such a big season for the Brooklyn-based artist, we visited her in her studio late last spring.

Shotz’s extending sculptures are informed by astronomy and physics in a sense, paralleling the expansive nature of the universe. Throughout the visit at her studio in Redhook, she nonchalantly referenced new discoveries in science and space, including one about the relationship between inflation and the Big Bang theory that we still can’t wrap our head around.

Alyson Shotz

Her work is marked by its exploration of boundaries in perception, space, and time, often using synthetic materials such as mirror, glass beads, thread, and steel wire, creating an otherworldly effect. The sculptures change with the light and time of day, coruscating as you walk around them. Inspired by abstract ideas such as string theory or dark matter, Shotz attempts to visually respond to scientific or mathematical concepts through an artist’s lens.

Shotz approaches much of her work as experimentation, allowing for fluidity and a specifically human feeling. When making her “Origami” series out of porcelain, she would slam the porcelain clay down on the ground to enliven the objects, permitting the materials to create their own shape. The stunning set of four melting, wrinkled pieces is complemented by a series of notes on the wall that convey imagined sculptures that Alyson has envisioned. “A sculpture made out of a cloud,” or “A sculpture that expands and contracts slowly” are written words left for the viewer to imagine their own theoretical sculpture.

Invariant Interval
Stainless steel wire, aluminum collars, glass beads
Approximately 200 x 200 x 180 inches

Much of Shotz’s work deals with themes of temporality. After Hurricane Sandy, her studio was flooded and some of her work was destroyed. Because of this, Shotz (in addition to keeping her heavier pieces upstairs) as of late has been influenced by the elements. Her newer works were created from using sophisticated software, which allowed her to control planes and shapes on a screen and add weather effects, distorting the shapes. The large sublime “wall drawings” look as though they were created from large looms, though aesthetically clean.

The artist’s upcoming installation at the Wellin Museum of Art, “Alyson Shotz: Force of Nature,” will feature many site-specific works, including an arching sculpture reminiscent of a Mobius strip, which is influenced by the geometric concept of a continuum—a shape without boundaries or end.

Alyson Shotz


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