Marsha Pels: 'My Work Scares People'

From her studio in Brooklyn, Pels talks to us about dogs, death and driving the streets at night in search of materials

in Frieze New York , Videos | 16 MAY 22
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Marsha Pels speaks to us about the importance of the city of New York to her practice, giving us a tour of the Brooklyn in her truck ⁠— her most important tool for collecting raw materials. In the studio, we see found objects transformed: the artist juxtaposing materials in one work to create something that’s more fluid and cohesive. As Pels states, ‘If I don't transform an object, it doesn't work.’

For the Frame section at Frieze New York 2022, Marsha Pels (Lubov Gallery, FR11) presents four autobiographical sculptures, made using found objects in the Surrealist lineage of the “Exquisite Corpse”. One such work, Écorché, is a momument to loss. Made following her mother’s death — and a lifelong difficult relationship — the work is composed of twenty casts of Pels’s hands and arms, wearing her mother’s satin gloves, inside her mother’s mink coat. Her cast hands are stacked, smallest to biggest, like a rib cage, buffeting an absent spinal column. The title Écorché, refers to the French for 'flayed'; a technique of representing human anatomy without skin.

Marsha Pels, Ecorche, 2006-2008, Sculpture made of atined cast plaster; 10 pairs of Pels’ arms cast in her mother’s gloves, her mother’s mink coat
Marsha Pels, Écorché, 2006-2008, Patined cast plaster; 10 pairs of Pels’ arms cast in her mother’s gloves, her mother’s mink coat, Courtesy of the Artist and Lubov Gallery.

Marsha Pels

Marsha Pels has won numerous awards including a 1981 Public Art Fund Grant, a Prix de Rome in 1984, a Fulbright Senior Scholar award to Germany in 1997, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant in 2004, and a 2013 Adolf and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Individual Support Grant, among many more. Pel’s work is included in the public collections of Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ; The Olbricht Collection, Essen, Germany; United Jewish Appeal Corporate Headquarters, New York; and the National Museum of Gabarone, Botswana, Africa. 

About Frame at Frieze New York 

Comprising eleven participating galleries, Frame allows visitors and collectors to see work by artists who may not have previously benefited from a major international platform to show their work.

This year, Frame is advised by gallerists Olivia Barrett (Château Shatto, Los Angeles) and Sophie Mörner (Company Gallery, New York). 

Frieze New York 2023
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