Shari Mendelson lives and works in Brooklyn and upstate New York. She is inspired by art history, and particularly by ancient Greek, Roman, and Islamic glass and terra-cotta artifacts— the sorts of works that make one think about what the material remains of peoples meant for posterity, and what the discarded and forgotten material of our own civilization shall someday say about us. With, in her own words, “equal parts play and reverence” Mendelson reinterprets these works using found pieces of discarded plastics— though almost without fail, at first glance a viewer falls under the impression that they are looking at ancient objects. The curved, concave, convex, and oblong forms that plastic waste takes on provides Mendelson with a wealth of material.
Hence, though her artworks carry the looks and charm of ancient archaeological finds, they are contemporary both in terms of material and concept. They deal with the predicaments surrounding objects from the past and those from the present. On the one hand, we are confronted with rarity, fragility, and the near-impossibility of preservation— on the other, with the inescapable issue of superabundance, waste, permanence, and the fact that the endless materials of our lives may outlast us.
Naturally, Mendelson has been the recipient of a John Simon Memorial Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2017), four New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships (1987, 1997, 2011, 2017), and a Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant (1989). She has participated in residencies including Yaddo (2018, 1990), The MacDowell Colony (2018), the Bau Institute/Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France (2014), UrbanGlass (2014), Corning Museum of Glass (2015), and The Toledo Museum of Art GAPP residency (2017). She has had solo exhibitions at UrbanGlass, Pierogi, Black + Herron Space, and Todd Merrill Studio; NYC, and John Davis Gallery; Hudson, NY. She has participated in numerous two-person shows including a 2017 show at The John Molloy Gallery, NYC, and has been included in gallery and museum exhibitions including The Aldrich Museum, and The Brooklyn Museum. Her work is in the permanent collection of The RISD Museum, Providence, RI, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, The Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania, Australia. Mendelson's work has been featured in publications including in The New York Times, Hyperallergic, Modern Magazine, Ceramics Now, Glass Quarterly, and NY Arts.