Arlene Shechet: Full Steam Ahead
Arlene Shechet’s first major public art project, Full Steam Ahead, features a series of new sculptures in porcelain, wood, steel, and cast iron installed in and around the park’s emptied circular reflecting pool. Her work straddles function and art by including seating for conversation, inspired by memories of the sunken living room in her grandparents’ New York City apartment.
Along the pathways and perimeter of the reflecting pool, human-scale sculpture interacts with traversing visitors and reflects the artist’s interest in flora and fauna: outsized remnants of a lion’s head and paw, remains of a bird’s colossal feather displayed high on a pedestal as an ominous trophy, and tree-like sculptures and branches in cast iron. Shechet has described the project as “a manufactured version of nature.”
Shechet is best known for her work in ceramic and porcelain, materials considered fragile and precious. In Full Steam Ahead, she brings the material to a new level of scale and form, confirming her role as a risk taker who advances sculpture to the edge and into humor. The project’s title takes inspiration from the 1881 monument to Admiral David Glasgow Farragut who mythically commanded: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” during the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay.