Artist's Notebook

Colleagues: Judith Schaechter and Eileen Neff

Two of my talented colleagues at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts have solo shows in Chelsea this month. At Claire Oliver, Judith Schaechter presents beautiful but disturbing stained glass lightboxes and kiln-cast glass sculptures about sex and death, and at Bruce Silverstein, Eileen Neff explores perception, mirroring, and memory in an installation of staged and often manipulated photographic images.

[ Image at top: Judith Schaechter, Harpy, stained glass lightbox, 37 x 33 x 2 inches.]

Judith Schaechter, Birth of Eve, stained glass lightbox, 57 x 31 x 2 inches

A fusion of medieval manuscript illustration, carnival signage, and 1960s album cover mayhem and mysticism, Judith Schaechter’s intensely detailed imagery and finely wrought glass sculptures speak of inadequacy and defeat; the sagging skin, sunken eyes, and acute boniness of her characters suggest a heartbreaking failure to thrive. “My main interests are sex and death with romance and violence the obvious runners up,” Schaechter says. “I’m trying to be as cliche, sentimental and decorative as possible, not as a strategy for ironic commentary about sentimentality but because this is the stuff that time and time again I am drawn to, obsessed with–that I have faith in.”

Judith Schaechter, Sleeping Girl, kiln-cast and hand carved glass, 17 x 11 x 6 inches.
At Bruce Silverstein, Eileen Neff revisits her photo-based works from the 1990s, when she began manually cutting and pasting images together, and later discovered that she could manipulate them digitally with early versions of Photoshop. Instead of presenting older work, however, Neff incorporates old images into new pictures arranged and shot in her Philadelphia studio.  
Eileen Neff, Visit in the Studio, 2014, chromogenic print, 40 x 51 1/2 inches. This image features The Visit, a 1997 photograph, propped behind a table of books in Neff’s studio and rephotographed.
Eileen Neff, installation view of two images at Bruce Silverstein. 
 Eileen Neff, Switch, 2014, chromogenic print, 63 x 60 inches.
Neff relies on quirky installations to create connections between images, and documenting  her exhibitions she deliberately obscures distinctions between the images and the installation. In the back gallery, to further perplex us, Neff archly presents an image in which a section of the gallery wall is the subject of an image resting on the other side of the room. Viewers know they are looking at an image of the space they are inhabiting but can’t quite place the location. In this intriguingly sly exhibition, Neff simulates our sometimes unavoidable conflation of what’s real, what’s imagined, and what’s remembered.

Eileen Neff: A Prologue,” Bruce Silverstein, Chelsea, New York, NY. Through October 25, 2014.

Judith Schaechter: Dark Matter,” Claire Oliver, Chelsea, New York, NY. Through October 25, 2014.


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  1. Pingback: “The Birth of Eve” an Artwork by Judith Schaechter - writingcrik

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