Sue Scott Gallery

Studio visit: Sheila Pepe

T.J. Carlin
Time Out New York, September 2008

You’re known for your crocheted installations, and in July, you completed a major site-specific piece for the Smith College Art Museum.  How did that come about?

Twenty years ago I worked there, first as a guard, then as a curatorial intern.  Two years ago I was commissioned to make the work in honor of Ann Johnson, a retiring staff member who was my boss for awhile.  So it was really perfect, because my big crocheted projects have this theme of celebrating work, and working there as a preparator, with that collection, shaped the art I make.  The piece is called Red Hook at Bedford Terrace-a conjunction of my address and the museum’s.


What’s going on in your studio now?

I’m getting ready for a show at David Krut Projects in Chelsea, in mid-January.  So the place is filled with all sorts of stuff that I’ve created over the past 30 years; I always use old work as the gene pool for the new.  I’m working with [independent curator] Dead Daderko and I’ve asked him to really jump into my process and shake things up, which I love.  I have no idea what’s going to come out of it.


You’ve spent a log of your career teaching, and not long ago, you assumed an administrative post.  How do you divide your time?

I’m going into my third year as the assistant chair of Fine Arts at Pratt Institute, so yeah, it’s pretty wild.  It seems like I work almost 24/7-either in my studio, in my office, or teaching.  I’m pretty awed by the conceptual feed of ideas from my administrative role to my work as an artist.  There’s always been a correlation between making art and teaching, but having this third aspect in the mix has been really great. 


What advice would you give to young artists entering the art scene today?

How much time do you have? [Laughs] Don’t forget to get out of the city to look at your world, your work and yourself through a different lens.  And whatever you end up doing, patience and stamina will likely be more valuable to you in the end than you think.  Cultivate those attributes.  


What do you love most about being an artist in New York?

The rents! [Laughs].


But seriously…What do you like

 best about the city?

The MTA!  Last weekend my girlfriend took me to the Transit Museum, and she had to wait until I got my turn to “drive” the bus they have there.  I had a good 35 years on everyone else in line.