Throughout her work, Judith Shea has used clothing to explore the nature and history of sculpture. Trained as a fashion designer, she soon found that field too restrictive and abandoned it in favor of sculpture, using clothes at first as abstract forms and, later, as surrogates for the human presence itself. By the mid-1980s, she began to place her figures into groups, suggesting psychological relationships among them and the possibility of a story. The three symbolic presences of Without Words are a rumpled raincoat, a spare and elegant dress, and the fragment of a classically molded head. This haunting trio seems to be carrying on a dialogue about modern life and antiquity. The head was based on an Egyptian Eighteenth Dynasty sculpture of Queen Tiye; the dress is reminiscent both of archaic Greek statuary and the sleek couture of the 1950s; the coat is modern, yet recalls the flowing drapery of classical sculpture.
© 1998 Walker Art Center