Melissa McGill: Slipside

Melissa McGill: Slipside

August 1, 2017 — January 31, 2018

Kohler Experience Center, NYC
Arts/Industry Satellite Exhibition Space
6 West 22ND St., NY, NY

Kohler Co. has set aside exhibition space in the main showroom of the new Kohler Experience Center, located at 7 West 22nd St. in Manhattan, to feature work created in the celebrated Arts/Industry artist residency program.

Melissa McGill (NY) made Slipside, a series of almost human-scale figures, during her 2002 and 2004 Arts/Industry Pottery residencies. These one-piece forms pushed the technical limits of scale for slip-cast ceramics. McGill credits  her success in making this work in part to her lack of experience working with clay as well as her refusal to accept what she was told were its limitations.

Work on the figures began prior to McGill’s residency. She cast the hollow interior spaces of small, mass-market porcelain figurines, filling the voids with rubber, then breaking the objects to expose the now-solid interiors. She worked with a fabrication company to enlarge these forms to almost life-size, human scale in foam, which she planned to cast in vitreous china.

The creation of Slipside pushed the technical limits of scale for slip-cast ceramics. When McGill’s Arts/Industry residency in the Kohler Co. factory began, there was some doubt that these large figures could be made as originally designed, but she was persistent in her efforts to create the forms in one piece. With technical advice from factory artisans, she made molds and repeatedly slip-cast them until she had completed a series of clay figures standing nearly five feet tall.

With their pristine, white glazed surfaces, these manifestations of empty interior spaces possess a ghostly resemblance to their original, idealized outer shells. As objects that relate so closely to the human body, they invite viewers to question their own internal worlds and unconsidered depths.

McGill has been exhibiting her artwork internationally since 1991, including large-scale public art projects in the landscape, such as Constellation and Palmas, as well as one-person exhibitions at White Cube, London; Power House, Memphis; Palazzo Capello, Venice; and CRG Gallery, New York. The opening of her most recent project, The Campi, in Venice, Italy, coincided with the opening week of La Biennale di Venezia – 57th International Art Exhibition. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.

“McGill’s sculptures are an example of why many artists apply to the Arts/Industry residency program,” said Kristin Plucar, Arts/Industry program manager at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. “They hope to make larger work than they could in their home studios. A three-month residency at the Kohler Co. factory gives artists the time to explore new materials, create new bodies of work, and take on incredible projects. This satellite exhibition space will showcase the work that results from this extraordinary collaboration, and the Arts Center deeply appreciates this demonstration of Kohler Co.’s ongoing commitment to the creative arts.”

Read more about Arts/Industry.


Arts/Industry is a residency program of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. It is generously hosted and funded by Kohler Co. The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is a 501 (c)(3) (nonprofit) organization; donations are tax deductible.