Publication Date

Spring 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art and Art History


Dore Bowen


Autonomy, Ceramics, Craft, Feminism, Institution, Sculpture

Subject Areas

Art history; Gender studies; Fine arts


New York-based contemporary artists Arlene Shechet, Nicole Cherubini, and Francesca DiMattio have each developed a sculptural style that integrates the pedestal within their sculptures. Primarily made from clay, unconventional craft materials, and commonplace objects, these sculptures formally and conceptually blur the lines between craft and fine art, décor and sculpture, as well as private and institutional space. With a renewed interest in craft and feminism, these artists test the material hierarchies that have historically determined the categorization of art inside institutional spaces. This study investigates how these sculptures gain autonomy when exhibited inside museums in light of contemporary theories on craft, feminism, and autonomy. Furthermore, this thesis illustrates how these artists’ choice of materials and unconventional techniques symbolize their struggles as women artists, ultimately contributing to a growing body of research on contemporary craft and feminist art that challenges institutional hierarchies.