ARTS

16 Contemporary Women Sculptors You Should Know

07/01/2014 09:14 am ET | Updated Jul 01, 2014

What does sculpture look like today?

The three-dimensional art form has certainly come a long way since the marble busts and butts of yore. A new exhibition at Postmasters in New York, titled "This Is Sculpture," is exploring the many manifestations of sculpture as it exists in the contemporary art landscape. Although the point isn't emphasized by the gallery, all the contributing artists are women.

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Natalie Jeremijenko MUSCLExCHOIR

"I think there is an over-privileging of painting happening all over the place and sculpture seems to be a little secondary," Postmasters owner and curator Magdalena Sawon told The Huffington Post. Some of the medium's recent negation, in conversation and in the art market, stems from the predominance of transforming artworks into pixels to be shown on the web. While paintings and photographs can be translated into net-friendly forms easily, digitally rendered sculptures accentuate their distance from the IRL original.

Yet, as Postmasters reminds us, sculpture's domain extends beyond the small corner of a gallery in which it dwells. "Sculpture exists in and defines not just physical space, but psychic space, conceptual space, political space. And not just space, but our presence in it, our relationship to it, our movement through it, our responsibility for it."

Sawon, along with curators Paulina Bebecka and Tamas Banovich, crafts a stunning survey of strange and surprising large-scale sculptural forms, each revealing that sculpture is far more than the physical thing itself. The all-female nature of the exhibition flies as an under-the-radar feminist win for a medium that's long been associated with "macho scale" artists like Richard Serra and James Turrell.

"We really wanted to talk about the medium, and viewers are free to make the connection that the market that privileges painting over sculpture also privileges male artists over female artists," Sawon explained. "We tried to go against the gender cliche where Richard Serra makes massive sculptures and women make these cute little things."

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Rachel Mason, "Starseeds"

The artists on display are of the most ambitious variety, each occupying a different vision of what sculpture can be. All of the sculptures are large in scale, excluding Rachel Mason's "Starseeds," doll-sized replicas of her female heroes from Bjork to Ana Mendieta to Amy Sedaris, all donning disco ball-esque garb. Seven of such dolls are sprinkled around the gallery in which Sawon calls "a little thread that goes through the whole show."

Other notable works include Natalie Jeremijenko's "MUSCLExCHOIR," which is literally a choir of mussels (yes, the saltwater mollusca). Jeremijenko treats salinated water to become the perfect ecological system for mussels to live. "They are hooked up to electronic transmitters and when they open and close that movement is translated into light and sound. It's a really amazing," Sawon explained. "I wouldn't go as far as to say mussels make exciting music but it's really fascinating."

Caitlin Cherry's "Mute City, Big Blue, Port Town," features a repurposed large-scale painting serving a rather unorthodox purpose, as the floor of a swimming pool. The 87 by 79.5-inch pool is only a foot deep -- "You can sit around it, you can't really dive in" -- offering a refreshingly strange way to view the relationship between painting and sculpture.

The 16 sculptors on display offer a dizzying rebuke to the dominant market trends in terms of both artistic medium and artist gender. We can't quite phrase it better than Sawon herself: "Women can do it with equal zest, energy and variety."

"This is What Sculpture Looks Like" runs until August 2 at Postmasters in New York. See the 16 female sculptors of the exhibition below.

  • Daria Irincheeva Evening Composition #017 2014 paint samples, wood, contact paper, brick, glossy laque, tape, airplants dimensions variable
  • Shinique Smith Soul Elsewhere 2013 artist's clothing, fiber-fill and rope 38.5 x 18 14 inches
  • Brenna Murphy glyphagarland resonator 2014 plastic, paper, wood 48 x 109 inches
  • Joanna Malinowska Genre scene with a fountain 2014 vinyl, foam, paper, plaster, shellac, tv monitor video, black and white, no sound running time: 5 min loop dimensions variable
  • Diana Cooper Cubicle 2014 mixed media with digital prints 74 x 74 x 70 inches
  • Esperanza Mayobre Hueco, palo, bloque, antena (or the story of a Golindano antenna). 2014 wood, hydrocal, silkscreen, photograph, paint 10 ft x 11 ft x 9 ft 5 inches
  • Natalie Jeremijenko MUSCLExCHOIR Performing Live! 2014 blue mussels (Mylilus edulis) - each with an IP address, magnets, hall effect sensor, instant ocean, live rock with coraelline algae, acrylic, tubes, wild observatories and visualight.org app to change the lights. dimensions variable
  • Saeri Kiritani 100 pounds of rice 2013 rice, rice noodle, elmer’s glue, epoxy glue, wood and metal sticks 84 x 60 inches 100 pounds of rice 2013 c-print, mounted and laminated 84 x 60 inches edition of 3 + 1AP
  • Rachel Beach Hull 2014 oil, acrylic plywood, metal stand 78 x 24 x 17.5 inches Demi 2014 oil, acrylic plywood, metal stand 78 x 24 x 17.5 inches
  • Michelle Matson Untitled 2014 wood, sheetrock, latex, paint, graphite, glue, plaster, Styrofoam, acid free colored paper and colored pencil 74 x 50 x 36 inches
  • Monica Cook Phosphene 2014 aqua resin, urethane resin, plaster, steel, acrylic paint, urethane, urine, salt, barnacles, sea grass, copper, silicone, train modelturf, powder pigment, blood, bleach, magic sculpt, wax, plastic skeleton, ceramic teeth, silver tooth cap, wire, oil paint, soot, buoy 56 x 84 x 45 inches
  • Molly Crabapple Portraits of myself and Lola Montes with things said about us by our contemporaries 2014 acrylic on wood 60 x 80 x 40 inches
  • Rachel Mason Amy Sedaris 2014 polymer clay, acrylic paint, repurposed porcelain doll bodies, synthetic doll hair, fabric, mirror, hot glue 15 x 8.5 x 4 inches PJ Harvey 16 x 8.5 x 4 inches
  • Installation shot, courtesy of Postmasters Gallery, New York.
  • Installation shot, courtesy of Postmasters Gallery, New York.
  • Joanna Malinowska Genre scene with a fountain 2014 vinyl, foam, paper, plaster, shellac, tv monitor video, black and white, no sound running time: 5 min loop dimensions variable
  • Installation shot, courtesy of Postmasters Gallery, New York.
  • Katie Ostler Workers Protest Platters 2013 -14 17 platters glazed ceramics dimensions variable by piece
  • Caitlin Cherry Mute City, Big Blue, Port Town 2014 swimming pool (wood, ceramic tiles, plexiglass, water, chlorine) mounted over painting (oil on canvas) 87 x 79.5 x 12 inches
  • Installation shot, courtesy of Postmasters Gallery, New York.
  • Katie Torn Aunt Lizzie 2014 pigment on paper 53 × 38 inches edition 1 of 2 + AP

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