Informed by the environmental, philosophical, and architectural histories of the American West, artist Aili Schmeltz creates sculptures and wall-hung works that combine painting, collage, embroidery, and ceramics. Her practice stems from a fascination of the desert landscape, research into feminist history, and an examination of the politics and utopian ideology associated to the development, destruction, and conservation of the West.
Schmeltz’s Cairn sculpture series employs architectural structural elements from Brutalist, Utopic, and Modernist traditions and echo the igneous rock and native plants of California’s Mojave Desert. The sculptures are a culmination of simplified and abstracted architectural motifs combined with the rough and weathered textures of earthenware. These elements are stacked and notched together, intertwining the architectural ideas of optimism with an awareness of the raw and unrefined elements that provide the material make-up of the work, creating objects that appear as hybrid futuristic relics.