February 5 - May 13, 2005
Mind the Gap
Responding to the architectural idiosyncrasies of the space in which she works, Sheila Pepe creates site-specific installations that are a blend of sculptural and graphic elements. The artist entwines materials such as shoelaces or yarn-in this case, nautical tow-line-into networks that span the room while allowing for a visitor's comfortable passage. Contrary to what might be thought, it is the systematic precision of her handcraft that makes for a seemingly randon:t accretion of solid forms, the shadows of which contribute to an atmosphere of perceptual play. Pepe's installation will be on view at the University Gallery from February 5 through May 15 with an opening reception and a chance to meet the artist on Friday, February 4 from 5-7 pm. Sheila Pepe will give a talk on March 24 at 7 pm in a location TBA. Please contact the gallery for more information. All events are free and open to the public.
For one of Pepe's more recent projects at the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art in Florida, Michael Rush, then Director of the PBICA, wrote eloquently of the artist's aims and interests.
" ... Sheila Pepe grew up in an Italian immigrant family in New Jersey. It is not accidental that her preferred materials include shoelaces and rubber bands. Her grandfather owned shoe repair shops, and she has been consciously paying homage to him in her work for several years. Pepe's fierce intelligence as an artist is cast in a deep appreciation for everyday life and simple encounters such as one might have in a corner store ... or over the phone .... She enjoys purchasing her ingredients from mom-and-pop shops and relishes having been taught to crochet by her mother.
"Her artistic enterprise is far from simple, however. Pepe has much more in common with such internationally known artists as Robert Gober, Thomas Hirschhorn, and Jessica Stockholder than she does with neighborhood sewing circles, yet she would feel comfortable in the company of either group. Herein lies Pepe's enormous appeal: her work is propelled by an enduring identification with both the stuff of home life and the complex problems of art historical inquiry, especially the formal concerns of modernism. Her entangled constructions initiate profound interrogations of sculptural space while engaging the human body in the making and viewing of art. There is no passive way to encounter a Pepe installation.
"Pepe's work is an invasion of the exhibition space: it is a seemingly chaotic assemblage of insultingly "low" materials that disorients the viewer and forces bodily interaction, including, at the very least, stepping around, stooping under, looking up, looking through, and exercising faculties of mind and imagination .... Beneath the seemingly arbitrary joining of her shoelaces (and, in this case, almost fifteen hundred feet of super-durable nautical tow lines) is· a rigorous architectural plan that stares modernism in the face, at once embracing and dismantling it."
Sheila Pepe was born in Morristown, New Jersey, in 1959, and lives and works in New York. The artist has had recent exhibitions at the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, Lake Worth, Florida (2004); the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, California (2003); and The Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Greensboro (2002). Her work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions including The Photogenic, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (2002); Verging on Real, Wave Hill, The Bronx, New York (2001); and Greater New York, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York (2000). Pepe is represented by Susan Inglett, New York, and Bernard Toale, Boston.