As a sculptor, Arlene Shechet isn't satisfied unless there is dimension to her prints. Before she arrived in Clark to work with master printer Sue Oehme at Riverhouse Editions, Shechet's work with paper had been in the form of large vessels.
During her first moments at the printing press, Shechet was unsure whether her artistic ideas would translate well on two-dimensional sheets of paper, but Oehme was confident. Oehme had seen a cover article published in the November 2003 issue of Art on Paper magazine that convinced her that Shechet's concepts would flatten out nicely.
The Art on Paper article told the story about an installation of paper and plaster created by Shechet during a residency at the Dieu Domme Papermill in New York.
Shechet created plaster molds that look like urns but are three-dimensional renderings of various Buddhist temple floor plans.
"I'm not a Buddhist, but I am interested in the Buddhist concept of temporality, fluidity and fragility," she said. "Buddhism mirrors how I operate as an artist."
Shechet painted the inside of 120 molds with Ming vase blue before filling them with wet paper pulp.
Oehme wanted her to bring the same aesthetic and concept to the printing press.
Before she came to Clark from her home in New York City, Shechet mailed 40 two-dimensional forms of varied sizes and densities, all in the shape of the Buddhist temples. During her two-week residency at Riverhouse Editions, Shechet used water-based inks, watercolors and oils to capture the imprint of the forms.
She organized the forms according to her feelings in the moment, she said. She grouped the vessels so that some were whole and some dissolved into the whole. "I'm interested in how little information you can have and still have the thing exist, while also becoming a new thing."