The large-scale ceramic is based on a brutalist building, Boston’s City Hall by Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles / Campbell, Aldrich & Nulty: Boston City Hall, 1962–1968. The building is among the many brutalist structures that have fallen out of favor, and have been demolished or, as this one was, was slated for demolition in 2006. Melsheimer has often depicted no longer existing or soon to be demolished buildings.
Depicting in broad strokes the structure of the City Hall’s characteristic façade, Melsheimer has added flanking human legs. While based on casts of her own legs, the ceramic limbs also refer to those of mythological figures at the Neue Palais in Potsdam, and more specifically to the 18th century penchant for faux ruins, and for combining mythological and grotesque figures in fantastic grottos. Thus the cavernous interior of the ceramic structure is filled with clusters of architectural ruins that are richly glazed.
The new sculpture is one of the artist’s largest and technically complex ceramics to date. Similar to her idiosyncratic use of concrete, Melsheimer who began to work with the material in 2013, has pushed the boundaries of this craft in scale and technique, making the medium completely her own.