Academy Art Museum Announces Acquisition and Installation of Monumental Sculpture Density of Air by Alyson Shotz

Alyson Shotz, Density of Air, 2015, stainless steel and stainless steel wire, 143 7/10 × 59 4/5 in

Academy Art Museum is pleased to announce the acquisition of a new sculpture for its permanent collection. Density of Air, by Alyson Shotz will be on view beginning May 16, 2023. Also on Tuesday, May 16 at 5:30 pm, the artist will discuss this sculpture and her other work in an Artist Talk at the Museum.

Density of Air explores the unique make-up and movement of air by reimagining it in the form of thousands of small stainless-steel disks. Curator Mehves Lelic remarks: “The mixture of gases that make up air and their expansion and compression are often invisible to the human eye, which leaves much to our imagination. Shotz’s disks become poetic molecules in this imaginary world as they reinterpret the unique way gases behave by clustering, distorting, and curving delicately, and thus forming an immense tapestry that links the physical and the sublime. Standing before it is a wondrous, immersive experience for the viewer.”

The artist has long been influenced by science, and many of her works mold unlikely forms out of glass, metal, and other inorganic materials. Speaking of the influence of the natural world on her work, Shotz states, “There are things that I see happen when I’m working with a material that tells me something about gravity, space, force. I’m interested in showing that idea through the artwork.”

The sculpture guides visitors between the two floors of the Museum and acts as an unmissable point of interest between the gallery spaces on the first floor and the studio classrooms above. The work’s large scale and various vantage points from which it can be viewed enable a captivating experience for the viewer.

Shotz is a critically acclaimed artist whose works can be found in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, National Gallery of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The High Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Phillips Collection, The DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Storm King Art Center, and now, the Academy Art Museum. She was a MacDowell Fellow in 2021, an Arts Institute Research Fellow at Stanford University in 2014- 2015, a Sterling Visiting Scholar, Stanford University, 2012, she received a Pollock Krasner Award in 1999 and 2010, the Saint Gaudens Memorial Fellowship in 2007, and was the 2005-2006 Happy and Bob Doran Artist in Residence at Yale University Art Gallery. In 2004 she received a grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

The acquisition of Density of Air was made possible through a bequest by Helaine White, and the generous support of Pam and Jim Harris, Elizabeth Hormel, Bette S. Kenzie, Christine and Don Martin, Catherine McCoy, R. Scott and Courtney Clark Pastrick, MaryLou and Joseph Peters, Mary Ann Schindler In Memory of Martin Hughes, Ann and Tom Scully, Seip Family Foundation, and Nancy L. Trippe.

[Source: Academy Art Museum press release]