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In Print: The State of Sculpture

How to define sculpture in 2022? This issue of Art in America offers considerable insight in answering that question, beginning with thoughts from curators we asked to weigh in. The Dia Art Foundation’s Alexis Lowry quotes sculptor Melvin Edwards: “My whole thing about sculpture is that it’s relative.” Julieta González from the Inhotim Museum in Brazil points out that “sculptures provide not only physical and perceptual experiences, but often symbolic ones as well.” SculptureCenter’s Kyle Dancewicz refers to the sculptor’s pursuit as a “a void-shaped discipline.” And Karen Lemmey from the Smithsonian American Art Museum reminds us that “unlike in the past, sculpture today is assembled from anything.”

Sculpture can be as big and broad as a landscape, as we see in Kirsten Swenson’s story about treating land reclamation as a form of art project in the 1970s. And it can be as intimate as something a hand can hold, as Glenn Adamson suggests in a consideration of different ways that craft and sculpture connect. Analyzing the sculptures of Clementine Keith-Roach, one of which graces our cover, Adamson writes that they “prize craft not just as a practical way to get things done, but as a source of cultural resonance.” He goes on to note that “making-by-hand is a way to express a sense of belonging.”

Do Ho Suh, who made the special pull-out print in this issue, speaks of pedestals—an integral part of his work, and of sculpture’s history—sharing similarities with the way that words function in a sentence. In a roundtable moderated by Art in America Ideas Editor Mira Dayal, artist Gordon Hall says, “The thing I love about sculpture—which is also maddening and makes it difficult—is that it puts you into such a close relationship with physical stuff, with things and weight and messes.” He tells his students to think of sculpture “less as a category of artwork than as a way of approaching artmaking in general: it could involve writing or speaking, as well as any kind of making that has to do with material intimacy.”

Every article in this issue has a shape and a multitude of dimensions, and each is the result of making. I hope you’ll take each one in and consider it from a variety of vantage points.