The Path to Paradise: Emotional Hot Zones

The word “grotesque” derives from the word “grotto,” and a grotto is a moist cave. You don’t have to be Freud to know why dark, moist caves are going to be an emotional hot zone.
—Judith Schaechter

Emotional Hot Zones

Schaechter’s panels have featured heightened beauty and grotesquerie, ebullient nature, and profusions of natural forms that tap into the collective joys, fears, and frustrations of life in the twenty-first century.

Her assertive departure from the mainstream and her willingness to follow her path without ceding to the tastes of the moment have contributed in essential ways to dismantling the rigid walls around the traditional art-versus-craft argument. Schaechter, whose earliest work in this exhibition was made in 1983, stands with pioneers like Faith Ringgold and Miriam Schapiro in questioning the binary and often gendered divisions between art and craft, formalism and the decorative, and masculine and feminine.

As she engraves her forms into the glass, Schaechter gives literal shape to the knowledge specific to a woman—those fears, hungers, and experiences so frequently trivialized. As women continue to aggressively reclaim authority and authorship over their self-representation, we have a new lens through which to view the career of an artist who has long engaged in this dialogue. Schaechter’s contributions and transgressions are distinctly American, feminist interventions into the history of contemporary art, craft, and the medium of stained glass.

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