Residency: May-June 2005
Aili Schmeltz’s sculpture and installations look at the American suburban landscape as hideous and seductive, kitsch and homey, humorous and heartbreaking. Schmeltz mines her daily thoughts and experiences to look at larger world issues such as globalization and environmental destruction. “It’s easy for us to judge the acts of others while sitting in our easy chairs. It’s much harder for us to look at the actions of our own lives to see how these actions affect the larger scope. We drive to work everyday in our SUVs, drink coffee out of Styrofoam cups, become numb about the news, and the average person is convinced that the seem-ingly small actions of our lives are removed from global concerns. We are, for the most part, unaware of where our products and energy resources come from or what it takes to get these products to us; our water comes from the tap, our gas from the service station, our food from grocery store shelves, our electricity from the outlet on the wall. We isolate ourselves in our own bubbles of comfort. We are complacent in this contradiction of belief, opting often for convenience and comfort, neglecting the connections between our daily worlds and their affect (for better or worse) on world situations as a whole.”
Her soft sculptures and installation/ drawing constructions combine references to upholstered furniture, model making and home decor such as vinyl, model trees, shag carpet, wood paneling, and polyester. She uses these materials as emblems, snapshot memories of the 1970s tract home of her youth.
While at Sculpture Space Aili Schmeltz created drawings and a large mixed media sculpture entitled Mobile Prefab inspired visually by architectural models and thematically revolved around the ideas of comfort and convenience in the contemporary suburban landscape. The invented landscapes described by Schmeltz as “modular nowhere bubbles” are presented in small vitrines from a birds eye view where the viewer stands over the piece as if looking at a model for the future. With materials such as shag carpet, wood paneling and pom-poms Schmeltz brings a humorous kitsch to her sculpture while tackling more serious topics such as suburban sprawl and environmental destruction. This sculpture continues a body of work that Schmeltz has been developing that includes large sculptures, drawings and installations.
Aili Schmeltz is a Visiting Assistant Professor teaching in sculpture and foundations at Indiana University who has recently moved to Bloomington, IN from Portland, Oregon. She earned her MFA from the University of Arizona, holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and has exhibited widely throughout the United States.