Sheila Pepe is a New York-based artist and educator know for her monumental, ephemeral works, made from industrial and domestic materials through a process she calls ‘improvisations crochet.” Softly…Before the Supreme Court is a reference to architect Cass Gilbert, the St. Paul architect who designed the 1890 Endicott building in which you are standing, as well as the United States Supreme Court in Washington D.C., the Minnesota State Capital, and other nationally significant buildings. Sheila Pepe’s looping, drooping lines and woven shapes are a response to the gravity and hard geometry of the room — a soft, gestural rejoinder to two landmark buildings by one of America’s most famous architects. This newly commissioned installation is especially timely, given renewed attention to the importance of the Supreme Court and treading lightly before that foundation institution.
Since the mid-1990s, Pepe has used lesbian feminist and craft traditions to investigate systems of power in institutions of art and education. She has exhibition widely throughout the United States and abroad in solo and group exhibitions at venues including the Phoenix Museum of Art, PS1/MoMA, the Leslie Lohman Museum of Lesbian and Gay Art in New York, and the 8th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennial. She has also received a number of awards, including an Art Matters Grant, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Artist Grant, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award.
Sheila Pepe: Softly…Before the Supreme Court. Minnesota Museum of American Art. December 2, 2018 - January 2, 2019.
Cover photograph by Rachel Stern. Installation photography by Pete Sieger, courtesy of Minnesota Museum of American Art