Alyson Shotz was born in Glendale, Arizona in 1964. She studied geology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, then transferred to the Rhode Island School of Design to focus on art. She received her BFA there in 1987, and went on to graduate school at the University of Washington, completing an MFA in 1991. Shotz’s work is “informed by a scientist’s wonderment and curiosity,” wrote Sarah P. Hanson in Art + Auction in 2012, “from her affinity for chameleonic materials to her disruption of our assumptions about knowledge and science.”
Shotz works in sculpture, photography, and animation, employing a range of materials including glass, string, acrylic, aluminum, and steel. “Nature is such a big part of what I do,” she has said. “I believe strongly that the physical world has a lot to teach us. There are things that I see happen when I’m working with a material that tell me something about gravity, space, force. I’m interested in showing that idea through the artwork.”
Shotz was invited to create a permanent installation for Stanford University in 2013. The result was Three Fold, a 56-foot suspended latticework of curved aluminum slats covered with dichroic-acrylic. The piece is topographical and wave-like in form. Ambient light refracts and reflects off its acrylic surface, creating a spectrum of iridescent colors. The sculpture’s continuous shifting within its environment realizes her desire to capture intangible concepts that define the physical realm.
Shotz is attuned to light, its variation, and its effect on matter. In works as diverse as Structure of Light (2008), made with strands of silvered glass beads on wire that appears lucent and Sequent (2013), a series of origami-like prints made at Crown Point Press, she examines light as sculptural and physical, giving it form despite its fleetingness. Throughout her oeuvre, she explores the essence of materials– their resilience and their fragility. Delicate yet massive, precise yet fluid, Shotz’s work expands viewers’ perceptions. It acts as an extension of the space it inhabits.
Alyson Shotz’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She received the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in 2004 and was an Arts Institute Research Fellow at Stanford University in 2014-15. In 2019, the Hunter Museum of American Art unveiled a permanent installation that was commissioned in conjunction with the exhibition Alyson Shotz: Un/Folding. She is represented by Derek Eller Gallery and Carolina Nitsch Contemporary Art in New York and Galleri Andersson/Sandstrom in Stockholm. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
-Sophie Kovel, Crown Point Press
Alyson Shotz in the Crown Point studio, 2019
Watch this 3 minute video of the sculptor Alyson Shotz working during her 2019 visit to the Crown Point etching studio.
Alyson Shotz at Crown Point Press (4 minutes)
Alyson Shotz creates the aquatints Sequent and Sequent II at Crown Point Press.