Stella Waitzkin: These Books Are Paintings
A new solo exhibition of the work of sculptor Stella Waitzkin focuses on her book art from the late 1970s to the early 1990s.
Stella Watizkin:These Books Are Paintings, the first New York solo show of Waitzkin's work since 2005, is on view at Slag Gallery and has been curated by Craig Hensala. It features a range of compositional approaches the artist applied to her idiosyncratic use of the cast book form including single sculptural objects, assemblages, and rows of cast resin books set upon shelves. Waitzkin’s artworks explore themes of transformation, memory, gender roles, and the disruption of expectations.
Stella Waitzkin (1920-2003) explored the book as sculptural form for more than three decades, resulting in hallucinatory assemblages and sculptures that examine ideas relating to memory, transformation, authorship, interpretation and the disruption of expectations. Waitzkin was a founding member of Women Artists in Revolution (WAR) in 1969 and made works exploring autobiography and feminist themes throughout her career. She was a long-time resident of the Chelsea Hotel, where her apartment - filled with cast resin sculptures and books - became something of a legendary space.
"A sign displayed in Waitzkin’s library/studio read: “These Books are Paintings.” With this, she indicated that her resin books are not meant to be read in any conventional sense," says art critic Eleanor Hartney. "They speak the language of color, form, material and light. But for all their formal beauty, they are like ordinary books in one striking way. They contain worlds, ushering us into a magical realm of memory, dream and emotion.
"Waitzkin found her métier in books. After experimenting with glass and metal, she settled on cast polyester resin as her preferred material. Its semi-transparence captures light while suspending any object encased within it in a milky translucence. She learned how to color the resin, giving the works a mysterious glow."
Waitzkin’s work was included in numerous important book arts exhibitions in the 1970s and 1980s (and beyond) including The Book as Art at Fendrick Gallery in Washington D.C. (1976), a two-person exhibition at Franklin Furnace (1977), Artist Books USA a touring exhibition by Independent Curators International (1978-80), Artists’ Books at the Walker Art Center (1980), Center for Book Arts the First Decade at The New York Public Library (1984), and Book Artchitecture curated by the Center for Book Arts and presented at the Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1985).
The exhibition is on view at Slag Gallery through March 11, 2023.