Confronting Time: Bibi van der Velden & Michèle Deiters

10 May - 13 Jun 2021

Tayloe Piggott Gallery is pleased to present Confronting Time, a selection of figurative sculpture work by mother-daughter duo BibiMichèle, on view in Jackson Hole from May 10th through June 13, 2021. The artists, (mother) Michèle Deiters and (daughter) Bibi van der Velden, first began collaborating at the bequest of a friend and contemporary art collector for his sculpture garden in France, and it was a near-immediate revelation for both their artistic practices. 


The very first work the two women created together presents both a ruminative and blockbuster experience at once—undeniably the centerpiece of the exhibition. The Tit is just that—a massive, reflective single breast of poured stainless steel. The highly polished surface integrates its surroundings—the lush greenery of a country garden or the visage of the gallery viewer alike—into the experience of the piece itself. “For us it was a way of connecting heaven and earth,” notes Bibi. Stemming from the experience in creating The Tit emerged a series of hands and stylized heads, in bronze, brass, and alabaster, as well as a wall of translucent alabaster Tits, designed to become a site-specific bespoke installation.


As a rule, the duo confronts the challenges of materiality with creative solutions. “We were able to give each other such support. It elevated us, every time… When one person would sort of get down a bit, the other person would just lift the other one. It was absolute magic,” says Michèle. “The ideas to make things and to just do things really flowed so naturally between us.” Stainless steel, for one, is not often poured at such a large scale. The material is too hot for a mold, like those used to cast bronze. BibiMichèle came up with a casting process using sand as the material for the mold. The result is this fabulously sexy, conceptual mind-bender or an indoor-outdoor sculpture that is The Tit.


The title of the exhibition refers to the way the two sculptors, united as one, bridge the generational void, creating contemporary but timeless work. Michèle notes, in her poetic tone, “Time is an illusion but a real challenge of everyday life. This body of work represents this conflict.”


Michèle Dieters was schooled in Switzerland and spent a year in Rome studying Art History. She then traveled to a kibbutz in Israel, her stay cut short by the Yom Kippur War, where she was trapped in a bomb shelter for several weeks. Fascinated from an early age by stonework, Michèle’s youthful dreams were answered when she was awarded a two-year apprenticeship with acclaimed sculptor, Nico Onkenhout. Thereafter she studied sculpture at the London Art Schools City and Guilds and welding with the London Polytechnic, followed by two years with the New York National Academy and another two immersed in the stone quarries of Italy. Returning to the Netherlands with her growing family, Michèle established her studios in Utrecht and le Chambon, in France. Commissions began flowing in for companies and collectors, but it would be years before she would fulfill the continuation of the artistic persona who is BibiMichèle.


From a young age, Bibi van der Velden worked in her mother Michèle’s sculpture studio. Born in New York and raised in England and the Netherlands, Bibi studied fine arts in Florence, Italy, before honing her eye at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague. Bibi now creates jewelry and sculpture from her studios in Amsterdam and Portugal.


According to Simon Levie, former director of the Rijksmuseum, "Bibi and Michèle complete one another, automatically complementing and fusing their energies. Just as naturally they see into each other's brains while working and don't shy away from building on each other's thoughts. They work and create together in a way that gives new meaning to the words ‘working together’. What Michèle and Bibi do strikes me as completely unique."