Discipline: Visual Art – mixed media, Visual Art – sculpture

Polly Apfelbaum

Discipline: Visual Art – mixed media, Visual Art – sculpture
Region: New York, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 1992, 1993, 2024

Polly Apfelbaum graduated from Tyler School of Art. Featuring large scale installations of textiles, drawings, and ceramics, Apfelbaum’s work is framed by wider political contexts and the legacy of post-war American art.

Apfelbaum came to prominence in the 1990s and is best known for what the artist refers to as her "fallen paintings." These large-scale installations consist of hundreds of hand-cut and hand-dyed pieces of velvet fabric that are arranged on the floor. These installations exist as a hybrid between painting and sculpture and occupy an ambiguous space between the two genres.

She has exhibited her work consistently since her first solo show in NYC 1986. A major mid-career survey of her work opened in 2003 at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. The show traveled through 2004, and a catalogue surveying fifteen years of her work was published by the ICA Philadelphia. She has received a Rome Prize, a Joan Mitchell Grant, an Anonymous was a Women Grant, and a Guggenheim Grant. Her work has recently been recognized with a PEW grant, a Creative Capitol Award.

Soon after residency, she was in group shows at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. and Outer Space in Concord, MA. Recent solo shows include those at St. Johns College in Annapolis; Frith Street Gallery in London; Magazine 111 in Jaffa, Israel; Kunstmuseum Luzern in Lucerne, Switzerland; Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, UK; and Belvedere 21 in Vienna. Recent group shows include those at the Miro Foundationin Barcelona; LACMA in Los Angeles; El Espacio in Miami; and Kunstmusuem in Liechtenstein.

At MacDowell in 2024, Apfelbaum worked on three series of gouache drawings. Her residency occurred during the change over from winter to spring and the coming of the eclipse, all of which she found “inspirational.” She drew and painted over 150 ladybugs on six-inch paper circles in one series and 50 ladybugs on eight-inch circles in another. The final series was 18 drawings, a color chart series titled "the white stripes," where she filled her studio with color. Wanting to get back to her roots, Apfelbaum let her mind wander, and said “it was so special to have the time to focus, and the magic of MacDowell pushed me forward.”



Polly Apfelbaum worked in the Eastman studio.

Thanks to the generous support of MacDowell Fellow and board member Louise Eastman, this century-old farm building was reinvented as a modern, energy efficient live and workspace for visual artists. Originally built in 1915 to house a forge and provide storage when the residency program was expanding, this small barn was simply converted for…

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