The Whatcom Museum is highlighting five female artists from our collection throughout the month of March (Women’s History Month). This is the last one of the series! Follow us on social media and share our post with your followers, or tell us your favorite women artists. Don’t forget to tag your posts #5WomenArtists.
Sheila Klein fearlessly defies prevailing styles and trends. Acclaimed nationally for her public art installations, including Underground Girl (2000, Hollywood-Highland Metro Station, Hollywood, CA) and Comfort Zone (2004, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, WA), she has devoted her career to transcending the boundaries of art. Her smaller-scaled artworks deserve greater recognition, and the Whatcom Museum’s sculpture, Stand, highlights this other side of the artist’s practice.
Stand was the first artwork to be exhibited in the courtyard of the Whatcom Museum’s new Lightcatcher building as part of the exhibition, Show of Hands: Northwest Women Artists, 1800-2010. The interactive sculpture forms gigantic pairs of men’s stretch pants. It invites visitors to explore an unusual portal into the artist’s imagination.
Inspired by an experimental approach towards materials and ideas, the artist welcomes the unexpected. Recognizing her vision, Klein was awarded the 2017 Arts Innovator Award, funded by the Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation.
Klein has exhibited at a wide range of venues, including PS 1/Institute for Art and Urban Resources, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; and the Museum of Art and Design, New York.
A self-taught artist, Klein moved to the Skagit Valley in 1976. During the 1980s, she worked in Los Angeles as a member of A2Z, an award-winning, collaborative art and architecture firm. She returned to Washington in 1995 and now lives on a farm outside Edison with her artist-husband Ries Niemi. Her large studio is a melting pot of ideas for grand projects as well as more intimately-scaled objects.