Alice Aycock Live

Internationally acclaimed Alice Aycock discusses the genesis and execution of her monumental architectural and mechanical sculptures with her old friend, Mark Segal, East Hampton Star culture writer.

Alice Aycock, drawing

AmagansettLand Podcast was on the scene — as always — to document the evening!

AmagansettLand Podcast

Aycock’s drawings and sculptures of architectural and mechanical fantasies exist as intersections of logic and imagination, located in a realm where science and faith intermingle. Her early work focused on associations with the environment. Often built into or onto the land, her environmental sculptures and installation art addressed issues of privacy and interior space, physical enclosure, and of the body’s relationship to vernacular architecture and the built environment. One such work is Maze (1972), constructed of five six-foot high concentric rings of wood, with three openings through which the viewer could enter. Once inside, the viewer participates in the work’s experience of disorientation as s/he traverses through its labyrinth to reach its center, just to go undergo the uncomfortable experience again when exiting.

After 1977, the recurrent themes of danger and unease were augmented by Aycock’s growing interest in metaphysical issues. The sculptures now excluded viewer participation and looked more like theatrical stage sets. After 1982, her work revolved around “blade machines,” sculptures made out of revolving, motorized metal blades. With its obsessive erudition, Aycock’s art of cosmic machines has been compared to Jorge Luis Borges’s stories, with their private metaphysics of mind, dreams, space, and time. Like Borges, Aycock provokes us with an underlying sense of terror that a higher order exists and is ultimately incomprehensible. Yet, we make endless attempts to understand.

Aycock has held several teaching positions at academic institutions focusing on the arts, such as the Rhode Island School of Design (1977), Princeton University (1979), San Francisco Art Institute (1979), Hunter College (1972–73; 1982–85), Yale University (1988–92), Maryland Institute College of Art (2010–2014), and has been at the School of Visual Arts, New York since 1991.
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, 1975, 1980, 1986
New York State Creative Artists Public Service Grant, 1976
National Academician at the National Academy of Design, 2013