Contemporary artist Alice Aycock was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is based in New York, New York. She studied at Douglass College in New Brunswick, New Jersey, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in 1968. She then went to New York City where she earned her masters at Hunter College. At Hunter, Aycock studied in the late 1960s under minimalist pioneer Robert Morris, and soon thereafter began working on large-scale sculptures in wood and stone. Aycock has been a member of the New York City Design Commission since 2003 and she has also been appointed to the GSA’s National Register of Peer Professionals. She received the Americans for the Arts Public Art Award in 2008 for “Ghost Ballet for the East Bank Machineworks” in Nashville, Tennessee. She has taught at numerous colleges and universities including Yale University (1988-92) and as the Director of Graduate Sculpture Studies (1991-92). She has taught at the School of Visual Arts since 1991.
In the 1980s, she began using steel and produced massive installations that challenged ideas of industrial aesthetics. In 2014 she made headlines for “Paper Chase,” her series of monumental, “ribbon-esque” pieces along Park Avenue in Manhattan. Her steel works often appear to have transcended the laws of gravity, floating like tops above the otherwise-mundane grounds of public spaces and institutions.
Alice Aycock has exhibited in major art museums internationally. Her artworks are in permanent collections of Museum of Modern Art, NY, Whitney Museum of American Art, Brooklyn Museum,the Louis Vuitton Foundation, LA County Museum, and National Gallery, Washington, DC. She exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Documenta VI and VIII in Kassel, Germany and the Whitney Biennial.
Her public art projects are throughout the United States: Philadelphia International Airport; Police Headquarters in Dallas, TX; Kansas City International Airport, Missouri; and Washington Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C.
Early Public Art
Aycock’s early public works are land pieces that involve reshaping the earth such as A Simple Network of Underground Wells and Tunnels, Low Building With Dirt Roof (For Mary), and the Williams College Project, all situated on farms in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts While these pieces have become subjected to the weather and are no longer there, she has continuously worked on outdoor pieces and installations that are permanently sited in public and private places. A long list of these pieces includes: The Solar Wind, in Salem, VA, The House Of Stoics, in Lake Biwa, Japan, The Tower Of Babel, in Buhsnami Sculpture Garden near Houston, Texas, The Island of the Moons and Suns, Robert Orton’s sculpture garden in La Jolla, CA, Fantasy Sculpture II, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and Summaries of Arithmetic Through Dust, Including Writing Not Yet Printed, at the entrance to the Engineering Department, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Aycock’s public sculptures can be found in many major cities in the U.S. Some of her public commissions include a roof top sculpture for the 107th Police Precinct House in Queens, NY in collaboration with the architects Perkins, Eastman and a Waterworks installation built adjacent to a new Medical Facility at the University of Nebraska in Omaha.
In collaboration with Nicholas Quennell of the landscape firm of Quennell Rothschild Associates and HOK/TCA, Associated Architects for the New York Hospital, she designed a sculptural roof installation, East River Roundabout, for the new East River Park Pavilion at 60th Street in New York City. In 1996 she inaugurated a new work for the New San Francisco Public Library – a functional and fantasy spiral stairs and a suspended “Cyclone Fragment”. The work required close collaboration with the library’s principal architect James Ingo Freed of Pei, Cobb, Freed and Partners. Concurrently, she opened a new suspended sculpture for the Sacramento Convention Center in California. This work is approximately 200 feet long and showcases suspended moving parts. Tuning Fork Oracle, a marble table assemblage for the courtyard of Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. She also completed an outdoor sculpture for the new town of Kattenbroek in the Netherlands and The Star Sifter, a large architectural sculpture for the rotunda of the new Terminal One at JFK International Airport.
Aycock installed a suspended work for the Philadelphia International Airport, US Airways; Terminal F. She completed an outdoor work for the University of South Florida, Tampa, and she installed a time-keeping courtyard sculpture for the new Police Headquarters in Dallas, TX. In the summer of 2003 she installed a suspended sculpture for the Rowland State Government Center in Waterbury, CT, and in 2004, a GSA commission for the entrance to the Fallon Building in the City of Baltimore, MD. In 2005 she installed a suspended work for the Bill Bradley Sports and Recreation Center, Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey. Projects completed in 2007 include Strange Attractor for Kansas City, Kansas City International Airport Long Term Parking Facility, Missouri; Ghost Ballet for the East Bank Machineworks, Nashville, Tennessee and The Uncertainty of Ground State Fluctuations for the Center of Clayton, Missouri. In 2008 she installed On the Interaction of Particles of Thought, a suspended sculpture for the new Library at Tunxis Community College in Farmington, Connecticut and a floating pool sculpture for the new Central Broward Regional Park County, Florida. An outdoor sculpture for the Johnson-Ward Pedestrian Mall at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville was built in the summer of 2009 as well as a new work for Weber State University, Utah, titled, Entangling/Disentangling Space. An interior relief sculpture was installed in 2010 for Western Connecticut State University, Danbury, CT. A permanent public artwork will be completed in 2012 at the Washington Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C, as well as a permanent interior work for Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.
Public Art Since 2000
In the summer of 2000 she constructed a new work for an exhibition of American Sculpture of the 20th century for the Principality of Monaco in Monte Carlo. In September of 2005 the MIT Press published the artist’s first hardcover monograph, entitled Alice Aycock, Sculpture and Projects, authored by Robert Hobbs. In 2008-9, the Museum of Modern Art exhibited her sculpture “Studies for a Town” as part of their permanent collection; the Whitney Museum of American Art exhibited her sculpture in the exhibition “Sites”. In 2009 she had a solo exhibition at the Salomon Contemporary Warehouse in Easthampton and at the Fredric Snitzer Gallery in Miami. She also had solo exhibitions at Galerie Thomas Schulte in Berlin in 2010 and 2011.