Claire Oliver Gallery is pleased to announce MAKE/BELIEVE a new exhibition by artist Judith Schaechter. MAKE/BELIEVE features six new stained glass artworks presented in lightboxes, installed as a debut exhibition in the gallery’s second floor space. Schaechter employs a centuries-old process of staining and enameling glass and contemporary innovations she has pioneered with engraving and layering panes to produce her epically narrative and brilliantly polychrome artworks. The works in MAKE/BELIEVE reflect myriad current events over the past few years from the pandemic to the BLM movement in Schaechter’s characteristically elliptical imagery that is deeply narrative while indirect in its references. For MAKE/BELIEVE, Schaechter has also designed a custom wallpaper that will be installed throughout the exhibition. MAKE/BELIEVE marks the artist’s eighth solo presentation at the gallery and will be on view October 21 – December 17, 2022.
“While it may not look like at first, the works in MAKE/BELIEVE represent moments in time that are more familiar than you might expect,” states Schaechter. “I am compelled by the relationships of inspiration, creativity and beauty. The experience of a stained-glass window is not only visual per se, you feel the warmth and the light in a way that you don’t with painting or television.”
By design, nothing in Schaechter’s works allows for a straightforward interpretation or a single meaning. Schaechter deliberately chooses images that are ambiguous, inviting a multiplicity of responses. The stained glass works in MAKE/BELIEVE represent occurrences both big and small that have taken place over the last few years. Dirty Snow, for example, was designed during Schaechter’s many ‘Covid walks’ around town. During those walks she would notice people walking their dogs, often with a little bag of dog waste, which took on metaphorical significance that she felt was quite poignant.
Raft of the Medusa was inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests. Schaechter was deeply moved by the willingness of people to risk their lives during the pandemic to protest for human rights. This is why the image shows struggle, but also moments of tenderness and love. Ax Wielding Maniacs began as a piece about deforestation and climate collapse, its intention being to showcase that humans can be their own worst enemies and victims of their own urges. Passuse, although inspired by images of a sunken aircraft that has been a pervasive theme in the media since Malaysia Flight 370, was less about social and ecological events. Working with the face cards from a deck of cards, Schaechter used layering to suggest reunited souls. De-Luxe is very loosely based on Holbein’s print series, The Dance of Death.
Judith Schaechter’s work is inspired by a life-long love and fascination for pattern, color, and the things that make life more luminous, vivid, intriguing, and inspiring. The characters showcased in her stained glass artwork are born from the 40 years Schaechter has spent exploring human figures in various stages – from being at rest and dreaming, to being in ecstasy or in anguish. Her often lushly imagined environments have become the main subject of much of her work as her fascination for birds and flowers has evolved into imaginary species that speak to the unlimited nature of our imagination, and concern for the environment. Schaechter’s hope for her most recent work is that if people can see nature’s beauty, they will do more to preserve it.
About the artist ~ Judith Schaechter has lived and worked in Philadelphia since graduating in 1983 with a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design Glass Program. She has exhibited widely, including in New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, The Hague and Vaxjo Sweden. She is the recipient of many grants, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in Crafts , The Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, The Joan Mitchell Award, two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts awards, The Pew Fellowship in the Arts and a Leeway Foundation grant. Her work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Hermitage in Russia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Corning Museum of Glass, The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution and numerous other public and private collections.
Judith’s work is noted in two survey-type history textbooks, “Women Artists” by Nancy Heller, and “Makers” by Bruce Metcalf and Janet Koplos. Judith has taught workshops at numerous venues, including the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, the Penland School of Crafts, Toyama Institute of Glass (Toyama, Japan), Australia National University in Canberra Australia. She has taught courses at Rhode Island School of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy, the New York Academy of Art and at The University of the Arts, where she is ranked as an Adjunct Professor.
Judith’s work was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial, a collateral exhibition of the Venice Biennale in 2012 and she is a 2008 USA Artists Rockefeller Fellow. In 2013 Judith was inducted to the American Craft Council College of Fellows.
About the Gallery ~ Claire Oliver Gallery is located in Central Harlem in a four-story brownstone. For nearly 25 years, Claire Oliver Gallery has showcased and celebrated artwork, with a focus on work by women and people of color, which transcends and challenges the traditional art historical canon. Our forward-thinking program and exclusive commitment to the primary market allows for an intensive focus that has nurtured and grown the careers of our artists. Many of the gallery’s artists have been included in The Venice Biennale, The Whitney Biennial, and biennales in Sydney, Pittsburgh, and Lyon and have exhibited works in major international museums including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, Center Georges Pompidou, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art amongst others. Claire Oliver Gallery artists are included in the permanent collections of many important museums worldwide including The Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Tate Britain, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The State Hermitage Museum, MoMA, and the Museum of Arts and Design amongst many others. Claire Oliver Gallery held the first American exhibition for the Russian collaborative AES+F, whose work went on to twice represent Russia in the Russian pavilion of the Venice Biennale. Gallery artists have received prestigious fellowships including Fulbright, Guggenheim, USArtist and National Endowment for the Arts.
Take a look-back at Judith Schaechter: Almost Better Angels at Claire Oliver Gallery in 2020.
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