Open Call: Pauline Shaw

JUN 4 – AUG 1, 2021
A monumental, abstract, felted tapestry exploring memory and diasporic experience through MRI scans
In The Works
Meet the artist

About this commission

In the installation The Tomb-Sweeper’s Mosquito Bite, Pauline Shaw meditates on the relationships between body and spirit, cultural and ancestral history, and science and mysticism. The work consists of a large-scale felted tapestry made of wool, silk, and other fibers. The seemingly abstract imagery derives from the artist’s extensive research into memory and MRI scans, mapping personal memories as well as neural and bodily abnormalities and degeneration. The resulting collage serves as an attempt to capture something as intangible as a memory, simultaneously blending the fragility and fallibility of processes of recollection and perception. Suspended from the ceiling, the tapestry is counterbalanced by small objects made from cast sugar, glass, ceramic, and carved stone (housed in blown-glass vessels) based on Taoist designs and altar items. Some vessels hold tangible illustrations of specific, or passed-down, memories and heirlooms that correlate to the abstract MRI scans. Exploring the erasure of traditions, mythologies, and memory Shaw has experienced as a first-generation Asian American woman, the installation communicates the rootlessness and cultural confusion of a diasporic or immigrant experience.

More about the Artist

A photo of the artist Pauline Shaw looking into the camera. Shaw's hair is parted to the side and she is in front of a whitewashed brick wall.
Courtesy the artist.
Pauline Shaw
Pauline Shaw
Pauline Shaw is a Taiwanese American, multidisciplinary artist born in Kirkland, Washington. Through sculpture, textiles, and installation, she examines how personal history and cultural knowledge are acquired and preserved. Shaw examines both historical and modern representations of self-identity and lineage through large-scale felted panes and multimedia sculpture. She was recently awarded the Lenore Tawney Residency at ISCP (2020). Her work has been included in exhibitions at ICA Singapore (2019); the Jewish Museum, New York (2018); Times Square Space, New York (2018); Wallach Gallery, New York (2018, 2019); Gagosian Gallery, New York (2019); Almine Rech, Paris (2019); Half Gallery, New York (2020); and In Lieu, Los Angeles (2019, 2020). Recent fellowships and residencies include Tropical Lab 13 (2019), ISCP Lenore Tawney (2020). Shaw received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design (2011) and MFA from Columbia University (2019).


Special thanks to Matthew E. Siegelman for MRI scans and knowledge; Ben Cohen, Powerhouse Arts; Grace Whiteside, Urban Glass; Skitch Manion, Working Man Handmade.

Thank you to our partners

The Lead Sponsor of Open Call is
Support for Open Call is generously provided by

Additional support for Open Call is provided by Jody and John Arnhold | Arnhold Foundation.

The creation of new work at The Shed is generously supported by the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Commissioning Fund and the Shed Commissioners. Major support for live productions at The Shed is provided by the Charina Endowment Fund.