‘Hot Mess Formalism’

Pepe multi-media exhibit at Bemis tests orthodox views of class and gender

Artist and educator Sheila Pepe is widely known for her intricate, delicate, and often sizable, web-like installations and sculpture made from domestic and industrial materials.

Her work tests perceived and persistent notions of class and gender, and questions the orthodox; the creation, presentation and often rote acceptance of patriarchal works and institutions.


Described as immersive and spontaneous, her sculptural assemblages and other works offer a broad examination of the conventions of museum display, cultural, economic status, and often challenges accepted ideas of the process of craft and art.

Sheila Pepe: Hot Mess Formalism, a traveling exhibit currently at the Bemis Center, is described by organizers from the Phoenix Art Museum as the “first mid-career survey of Pepe’s work.” The exhibit includes more than 70 works and features the premiere of a site-specific piece created exclusively for The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts.

Visitors will encounter not only Pepe’s grand fibrous structures for which she is so well known, but also a variety of sculptural assemblages, drawings, and other works, all of which challenge traditions in museum display and presentation, cultural and sexual identity, and craft.


Her work, conceptually associated with with feminism, queer theory, and economic class, begs substantially wider and varied associations and analyses.

Pepe, who has won several awards and residencies, came to notoriety in the Mid-1990’s, and has shown both nationally and internationally, in solo and group venues as well as collaborative projects. Hot Mess Formalismwas organized by the Phoenix Art Museum and will travel to several venues.

Hot Mess Formalismopened Friday, June 28thand runs through September 15th. The opening reception for the artist is from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. An ARTalk is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. All events are free and open to the public. Check bemiscenter.org for further information.

Category: Art

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