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"The Shape of Space: Alyson Shotz"
2004-06-01 until 2004-08-29
Rice Unversity Art Gallery
Houston, TX, USA

The Shape of Space, a new work by Brooklyn, New York-based artist Alyson Shotz, will be the third installation in Rice Gallery's Summer Window series. This series features installations that can be viewed through the gallery's front glass wall while the gallery remains closed for the summer. The Shape of Space will be made from more than 18,000 ovals hand cut from Fresnel magnifying plastic and joined together to create an eye-catching "curtain" suspended from the gallery's ceiling. The window installation will be on view through 29 August 2004.

Reflection is an ongoing subject of Alyson Shotz's work. Often, she uses mirrors as a device to explore how we perceive nature and assign meaning to it. For her seminal performance work Untitled (Reflective Mimicry), 1997, Shotz wore a fully mirrored bodysuit, to which she attached hand and back pieces with long, flexible wire extensions. Shotz attached mirrors to the tips of the wires, which allowed her to animate her surroundings and to blur the boundaries between her body and the landscape. Shotz's outdoor installation Mirror Fence, 2003, a 140-foot long standard-sized picket fence faced with Plexiglas mirror, is an "artificial" structure that, by reflecting nature's changes through the seasons, "disappears" into its environment.

The Shape of Space, Shotz's new installation for Rice Gallery, continues the artist's interest in reflective surfaces and perception. Shotz and a crew of assistants will cut thousands of different-size ovals from sheets of Fresnel lens plastic. Named for its inventor, 18th century physicist Augustin Jean Fresnel (1788-1827), a fresnel lens is flat on one side, ridged on the other, and was first used to build lighthouse lenses in 1822. The Fresnel lens plastic Shotz has chosen as her medium is also imprinted with concentric circles of prisms that bend and refract light. Viewed through Rice Gallery's glass wall, The Shape of Space will appear as a curtain of light that magically captures and magnifies thousands of images.


Born in Glendale, Arizona in 1964, Alyson Shotz received a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, Providence in 1987, and an MFA from University of Washington, Seattle in 1991. Recent solo exhibitions include Simple Forms (2004) at Ingalls & Associates Fine Arts, Miami; Alyson Shotz: A Slight Magnification of Altered Things (2003) at The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY; and Alyson Shotz (2003) at Derek Eller Gallery, New York. Group exhibitions include Yard: an Exhibition about the Private Landscape that Surrounds Domestic Architecture (2003) at Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY; Larger Than Life: Women Artists Making it Big (2003) at Susquehanna Art Museum, Harrisburg, PA; and Mirror Mirror (2002) at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) North Adams. In 2004, Shotz received a New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellowship in Painting and a Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Fellowship. Alyson lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

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