"Bending the Grid: Pat Lay: Myth, Memory and Android Dreams" Explores What it Means to Be Human

Newark, New Jersey— Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art is pleased to present Bending the Grid: Pat Lay: Myth, Memory and Android Dreams. This major survey exhibition highlights more than four decades of Pat Lay's career. It presents, for the first time, a broad view of Lay’s expansive vocabulary in a range of various media and styles, influenced by her extensive travels and informed by her overlapping art and non-art interests. The exhibition demonstrates the breadth and prescience of Lay's vision. Its very expansiveness—including the combining of art and science—is a subject in itself, as is its tilt toward diverse forms, materials and content.

Tracing the trajectory of her development from 1969 to the present, with the emphasis on more recent work, Lay’s commitment to the experimental, the multidisciplinary and the hybridized is highlighted in this show, along with her interest in working with a wide range of materials. The earliest works are abstract, at times brightly colored, three dimensional wall pieces made from glazed fired clay, when clay was still generally discounted as a craft medium in this country; it would become one of her signature mediums.

“From the beginning, it seems, Pat Lay has been fascinated by the unfamiliar, by cultures other than her own, especially from distant regions of the world. She was never dismissive of art that was free from European and American formulations, but was intrigued, instead, by its rich, often curious imagery and venerable histories, by its differences,” notes guest curator Lilly Wei. “Lay was also inspired by the many astonishingly talented, innovative women artists of the 1960s and 70s whose work broke new ground, addressing the same divide between the handiwork of what might be called ‘feminized’ pre-industrialized cultures and those of ‘masculine’ industrialized nations, between what was considered low and high art.”

In the past decade Pat Lay’s artwork has focused on technological metaphors of the human experience. Her sculptures, made of fired clay, computer parts and other ready-made elements, are hybrid, post human power figures that have cross-cultural references and question what it means to be human.

Aljira’s commitment to Lay is two-fold: first, to make the full range of this artist’s oeuvre more widely known; second, to acknowledge the generous contribution she has made to educating and promoting the work of young artists as a founder of the Master of Fine Arts program at Montclair State University.

Bending the Grid: Pat Lay: Myth, Memory and Android Dreams is documented by an illustrated catalog, including an essay by the guest curator Lilly Wei and an interview with independent art curator, writer and chairman of the board of Independent Curators International, Patterson Sims. Three limited edition prints by Lay, donated by the artist to benefit Aljira’s exhibitions and programs, will be available for purchase for a limited time during the exhibition. On sale at shopAljira ( beginning January 21. The exhibition will be on view at Aljira through March 19, 2016.

A graduate of Pratt Institute and Rochester Institute of Technology, Lay is a retired Professor of Art at Montclair State University. Lay has received two grants in sculpture from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and a grant from the American Scandinavian Foundation. She has been awarded three public art commissions including the installation of a large-scale site-specific sculpture in the sculpture park at the Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter in Oslo, Norway. She has had solo exhibitions at the Jersey City Museum; New Jersey State Museum; and Douglass College, Rutgers University. Her work has been included in group exhibitions in Japan, Austria, Korea, China, Norway, Wales and Slovakia and at the Jersey City Museum, Newark Museum, New Jersey State Museum, The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Montclair Art Museum, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Everson Museum, and the 1975 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Lay's work is featured in a number of books including Lives and Works, Talks With Women Artists, Volume II by J. Arbeiter, B. Smith and S. Swenson.

About the Curator

Lilly Wei is a New York-based independent curator and critic whose focus is contemporary art. She has written regularly for Art in America since 1984 and is a contributing writer and editor for various national and international publications, including ARTnews, Sculpture Magazine and Art and Auction, among others. She is the author of numerous exhibition catalogs and brochures, and has curated exhibitions in the United States, Europe and Asia. Wei lectures on critical and curatorial practices and serves on advisory committees, review panels and the boards of several art institutions and organizations. Wei was born in Chengdu, China, and has an MA in art history from Columbia University in New York.

About Bending the Grid

Aljira's series of exhibitions, Bending the Grid, examines the production of outstanding artists chosen from among accomplished, yet under-recognized national and international practitioners over the age of 65. While often grounded in rational, modernist principles, each artist presented finds personal ways to adapt or circumvent traditional or rigid aspects of formalism. Celebrated artists included in the Bending the Grid series to date are Luis Cruz Azaceta, Frank Bowling, Judith K. Brodsky, Donald Locke, Miriam Beerman and Helen M. Stummer.

Public Programs

Thursday, February 4, 2016, 6–8pm:

Dreamtime: Music and Poetry Series: 

This series curated by Jim Haba, Founding Director of the biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival brings together poetry, music, and contemporary visual art.


Saturday, February 13, 2016, 4–5:30pm:

NO Boundaries Jazz Series Performance with the Marty Erhlich Quartet:

NO Boundaries is a series of intimate jazz performances curated by world-renowned, master musician Oliver Lake.


Thursday, February 25, 2016, 6–8pm:

Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company Performance:

Choreographer Carolyn Dorfman and her highly acclaimed ensemble of dancers will perform again at Aljira, following a two-day workshop with high school students.


Saturday, March 12, 2016, 2–3:30pm:

In Conversation with Visiting Curator Dexter Wimberly:

During this talk, Pat Lay and Guest Curator Lilly Wei will discuss the cultural influences that inform Lay's work as well as Lay's commitment to the experimental, multidisciplinary, hybridized works featured in Myth, Memory and Android Dreams.


About Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art

Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art fosters excellence in the visual arts through exhibitions and educational programs that serve as catalysts for inclusiveness and diversity, promote cross-cultural dialog, and enable us to better understand the time in which we live. Public understanding and support of the visual arts are strengthened through collaboration and community-based educational programming. Aljira seeks out the work of emerging and underrepresented artists and brings the work of more established artists to our community. Through the visual arts Aljira bridges racial, cultural and ethnic divides and enriches the lives of individuals.


Aljira’s operations and programs are made possible, in part, by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey Cultural Trust, The Kenneth Aidekman Family Foundation, Bank of America, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Edison Properties, Newark Foundation, Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, Joan Mitchell Foundation, Lambent Foundation, MCJ Amelior Foundation, Merrill Lynch, Newark Downtown District, The New York Community Trust, Pharmachem Laboratories, Inc, PNC Bank, Prudential Financial, The Prudential Foundation, PSE&G Foundation,  The Schumann Fund, The Turrell Fund, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and many generous individual contributors. 

Aljira is located at 591 Broad Street in downtown Newark. For directions visit our website at The Center is open Wednesday through Friday, 12–6 pm and Saturday, 11 am–4pm. Phone 973 622-1600, fax 973 622-6526, Website: On Instagram: @aljiraart. On Facebook: On Tumblr: On Twitter: @aljiratweets.