Sculpture Magazine - July/August 2003 vol.22 No.6

Reviews: New York - Deborah Masters at Maurice Arlos Fine Art
By Jonathon Goodman

Art in Armerica - February 2003

Deborah Masters at Maurice Arlos and Smack Mellon By Lilly Wei

New York Times - September 27, 2002

'Sacred Matter’
- Karen Dolmanisth and Deborah Masters By Holland Cotter - Smack Mellon Studios

Vie Des Arts - 2001

DEBORAH MASTERS - An American in New York By Paquerette Villeneuve

The Brooklyn Papers “GO”: January 13, 2003

Thinking Big - Sculptor Deborah Masters Talks about her ‘Angel’ in the Brooklyn Public Library
By Lisa J. Curtis

Art in America - March 1992

Deborah Masters at LedisFlam By Nancy Princenthal

Village Voice - January 23, 1990

“Women in Command”

By Arlene Raven

Art in America -June 2001

Public Art in New JFK Terminal By Cathy Lebowitz

The New York Times - The Arts -Thursday, May 24, 2001

Being Met At the Airport By New Art - Big, Bold Installations For a Rebuilt Kennedy Arrivals Terminal

Art in America - ART WORLD - April, 2002


Greenline- Revelations- Artist and Activist

Brigette by Barbara Schaeffer

Philadelphia Inquirer- In Sculptor's Figures, A Mysterious Gravity

NY Times- Dith Pran- Front Page Sunday Times

The New York Times - Friday, October 4, 2002

ART GUIDE - Last Chance

Newsday -City - Thursday April 26, 2001

Missing Cloth’s No Cover-Up

By Pete Bowles

CRAIN’S New York Business - Jan. 28-Feb. 4, 2001

The Fine Art of Traveling

Daily News - Wednesday, April 25, 2001

“Artist Adds Loincloth to Jesus in JFK Mural”

By Warren Woodberry Jr.

The New York Times -The Metro Section - Wednesday, April 25, 2001

Blushing, Then Brushing, Artist Covers Nude Christ

DIE ZEIT - 4/6/2002 

Hipster auf Asbest
Nur eins stört den industriellen Charme im Szeneviertel Williamsburg: die Industrie
Thomas Fischermann

New York Times - Making ‘Dwell Time’ Fly Just a Little Faster

New $1.4 Billion Terminal at J.F.K. Aims to Ease Waits for Passengers
By Ronald Smothers

The North Brooklyn Community News-GREENLINE- January 6- Feb 27, 2003

Crossing Brooklyn: Angel in Crown Heights
Deborah Masters, April 24, 2001
Jesus' groin painted over after complaints

Above the Immigration Hall, Walking New York

Describing the theme of her narrative relief panels mounted on a 300-foot wide space above the immigration booths, sculptor Deborah Masters emphasizes the familiar, as well as the diverse in New York

Hemispheres - August 2001

Terminal Bliss
/ New York's JFK
By David Butwin

Interior Design - 9/1/2001

First Class - Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designs a new international terminal at JFK. By Edie Cohen

Los Angeles Times - Sunday, May 20, 2001

“New York’s JFK Airport Opens a New Terminal”

Brooklyn Bridge - September 1996

“Casts of Thousands”

By Bonnie Schwartz

New York Times - LedisFlam
April 1, 1988

Blue Angel:
The Decline of Sexual Stereotypes in Post-Feminist Sculpture By Michael Brenson

New York Times - LedisFlam -
March 3, 1989

Beyond Slickness: Sculptors Get Back to Basics”
By Michael Brenson

Village Voice - March 9th, 1993

LedisFlam - ‘Covert Action’
By Elizabeth Hess

Chico Enterprise Record - August 17, 1990

“Garden of Statues Grows at Chico State”


A Publication of the Art Department of California State University at Chico
“The Monoliths Have Landed”

The Daily News-Wednesday April 25, 2001

Mural Modesty - After complaint, artist adds loincloth to nude figure of Jesus - By Paul Mose

Newsday Copy- Profile- Sheila McKenna

ARTLETTER 1989-1990 Edition

“Visiting Artists & Scholars”
- Deborah Masters
California State University, Chico

Style: The Washington Post -Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Forsaken Warehouse District Is New York’s Latest Art Home
By Blake Gopnik

Gracie Mansion Gallery - Arts Magazine

“New York in Review”

By Robert Mahoney

Art in America - LedisFlam

Women at War 1993
By Ruth Bass

The New Zealand Hereld, World News - Thursday, April 26, 2001

X-rated Jesus given face-saving Y-fronts

JFK Catalogue Copy

The Brooklyn Phoenix - October 1988

‘Trails of Showing Sculpture in Park’

Chico Enterprise Record - Friday, August 17, 1990

“Three Sisters and a Rose Garden”

The Orion - January 30, 1991

Sister, Sister: Masters’ Final Sculpture Project Looks Inward”
By Courtney Rastatter

The Orion - 1991

“Sculpture’s New Location Solves Controversy”

By Lauren Dodge

PennState Harrisburg Currents -
Fall 1990

“Sculpture Garden Receives an Angel”

Eureka Standard- Jesse

New Yorker, Nancy Ramsey, Loft Tenants

Brooklyn Magazine
Brooklyn Artists, The Newest Left Bank
Amy Virshup, 1986


Sculpture Magazine
July/August 2003 vol.22 No.6
Reviews: New York

Deborah Masters at Maurice Arlos Fine Art

The relation of figurative sculpture to contemporary art is increasingly problematic- not because, as a category of image making, such sculpture is moribund, but because abstraction has pushed representational art to the side, an affront furthered by new artists’ predilection for high-tech imagery that rejects the handmade for digitalization. Figurative art has no place to go primarily because its formal problems and the origins of its creation are deeply related to feeling and craft rather than to intellect and electronic design. This is not to say that figurative sculpture lacks structure, only that it takes into consideration the interior life of the viewer because of the way it is made. Artisanal skill in the service of images lasts because it is a human attribute and as such is historically aware. The essential, often stunning newness of an art devoted to the moment excludes the weighty, history bound recognition of tradition in favor of a cultural expression that is primarily neutral in its innovatory present.
In the sturdy humanism of Deborah Masters’s sculptures we see a tenacity and vigor that is born of historical method. She is a politically engaged as she is figuratively inclined: on of her recent projects is a series of panels titled New York Streets (2001), set in the immigration Hall of the New John F. Kennedy Terminal in New York City. Consisting of 28 8-by 10-foot modified gypsum panels, New York Streets presents the varied ethnicities and races of New York with remarkable energy and verve; those represented play and work within easily recognizable sites in the city. The panels describe American democracy in action. Masters’s political commitment in art is matched by her local activism; she is deeply involved in community issues in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where she lives and works.
Investing her subjects with a classical gravitas, Masters hopes to express the dignity of all people, no matter what walk of life they may come from. In her recent show, she presented five larger-than- life-size figures, each sitting cross-legged on the floor.

As with her earlier figures, the sculptures of acquaintances Jeff, Jesse, Allison, Henry, and Coco possess a weighted seriousness meant to capture the nobility of the human figure. The immediate accessibility of Masters’s personae argues for the democratization of art- both in the representation of the figure and in the intended effect of the viewer. We have come, unfortunately, to associate the Greek nude with a general elitism in classical culture; however, the implications of Masters’s dignified figures turn to the idea that a democratic mimetics would see the inherent value in those whose circumstances are straitened. If Ezra Pound’s command, “Make it new,” remains central to art-making in the 21st century, the goal of the figurative artist might be a representation that describes and includes segments of society usually beyond the reach of the art world.
The true worth of Henry (2002), wearing jeans, with his hair done in corn rows, resides in the massive dignity of his person. Masters’s piece respects both the generalizing ideal of archaic sculpture and the specific features and body type of her model. Henry’s serious, even somber, unfixed gaze gives a depth to his persona. In art, he is recognized in ways that presumably do not occur as easily within the public context of his life. Henry is offset by Allison (2002), whose gaze is equally severe, her short bangs and quite face contrasting with the striations scratched onto the surface of her body (the marks are made on the clay model for the final pour of polyurethane fiberglass into a mold). There is, as well, a group dynamic that results from the collective experience of the assembly: Masters’s verisimilitude stems from a very real awareness that the strength of a group derives from a shared purpose of pose. Masters has given her audience a version of New York’s inhabitants not so distant from Brooklyn poet Walt Whitman’s odes to the common man.
We might casually assume that the five people in Masters’s democratic tableau would be lost to our sight if they were not singled out by the artist. We might also believe that the representation of such imagery is sufficient to acknowledge the kinds of social pressures and change that are occurring throughout the world. One remembers, however, that Masters’s work stems from a deep belief in the process of democracy, in which art is for the many, not for the few, Yet by invoking the language of figuration, she keys into a large tradition, one not always, or necessarily, democratic. Masters does her best to see figurative sculpture as a truly vernacular imagery. The impersonal ideal of archaic sculpture is made more particular, and more human, by Masters’s inclusion of local participants in her life. She uses the sculptural tradition to make room for a new aesthetic, one that encompasses rather than excludes. Just as Masters’s political activism is valent in a world indifferent to suffering, so her methods prove meaningful in art, which has left the figure for the shock of the new. Art can be and must address the human condition: Masters has shown that she intends to remain committed to an art that speaks to the living, even as it derives strength form the dead.

Jonathan Goodman