First Solo Museum Exhibition for Jesse Stecklow in Downtown Princeton

Conceptual artist’s site-responsive works on view at the Princeton University Art Museum’s Art@Bainbridge gallery 

PRINCETON, NJ – From air samplers that record the microclimate to scale replicas of the rooms at Bainbridge House that spin on the quarter hour, Jesse Stecklow’s work investigates the ways in which both atmospheric and built surroundings affect our perceptions. In his first solo museum exhibition, the Los Angeles-based artist explores the processes of perception and creativity through site-responsive installations at the Princeton University Art Museum’s Art@Bainbridge gallery, located in a restored 18th-century home. Components in the Air / Jesse Stecklow brings together works from five of the artist’s series —some newly commissioned — that interweave imagery, motion and sound to heighten visitors’ attention to the ways in which our personal associations, memories and perspectives shape our experiences of space. 

Jesse Stecklow (born 1993, Cambridge, MA; active Los Angeles, CA), Untitled (Air Sampler), 2017. Collection of Kai Loebach. © Jesse Stecklow / image courtesy of M+B, Los Angeles, photo: Jeff McLane     These installations engage both the macro and the particular, examining broad networks that govern environmental conditions, such as the American reliance on corn byproducts; systems of play, as in his series of anagrams; and a recollection of his grandfather’s ability to wiggle his ears. The installation will be on view at Art@Bainbridge from Nov. 6, 2021 through Jan. 2, 2022.

     Components in the Air / Jesse Stecklow is curated by Mitra Abbaspour, Haskell curator of modern and contemporary art, and Alex Bacon, former curatorial associate at the Princeton University Art Museum.  

     “With its strong architectural orientation, incorporation of recognizable everyday materials and deeply felt concerns about our environment that resonate now more than ever, the work of Jesse Stecklow draws on a long line of influential conceptual artists, with a vocabulary, wit and sensibility all his own,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, director. “In dialogue with the distinctive historical spaces of Bainbridge House, the installation will highlight the ecosystem of this emerging artist’s body of work.” 

     Jesse Stecklow (born 1993, Cambridge, MA; active Los Angeles, CA), Ear Wiggler (LEFT and RIGHT), 2015. Collection of Ron Handler. © Jesse Stecklow / image courtesy of M+B, Los Angeles, photo: Jeff McLaneStecklow approaches the exhibition as a series of interdependent room installations and as a microcosm of the larger systems, seen and unseen, that affect our experiences. His work invites conversations on a broad range of subjects, from air quality and industrial agriculture to explorations of perception—such as how time and humor shape our understanding of our surroundings.

     The exhibition creates a sequence across four galleries. In the entry gallery, a polished metal sculpture encases an air sampling device, which will capture data on the components of the atmosphere throughout the installation. This data, later sent to a lab for analysis, will provide source material for future sculptures. Other works grapple with how Stecklow engaged the distance between his Los Angeles studio and the galleries of Art@Bainbridge as pandemic precautions prohibited travel. Sculptures from a series that Stecklow calls Room Boxes, designed according to the building’s floor plan, incorporate sound through the ricocheting of a small ball, while vibrating sculptures of ears of corn are set in fireplaces. Such works reinforce the humor present throughout the exhibition. 

     “Stecklow works in the tradition of American humorists who, operating within the constraints of logic, use intellect and wit to make incisive observations about the world around us, and thereby make more acute our own attention to the conditions of our surroundings,” said Abbaspour.

     Jesse Stecklow (born 1993, Cambridge, MA; active Los Angeles, CA), Box Set (detail), 2021. Collection of the artist. © Jesse StecklowStecklow received his Bachelor of Arts from UCLA. His work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland, as well as across Europe. In 2017 he was awarded the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant. In March 2022, Stecklow will open a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MuMoK) in Vienna. 

     An open house celebration and meet-the-artist event will be held on Nov. 6 from 1 to 4 p.m. A panel featuring the artist and Princeton faculty Jess Rowland and Spyros Papapetros will be held virtually on Nov. 18 at 5:30 p.m. 

     Art@Bainbridge is made possible through the generous support of the Kathleen C. Sherrerd Program Fund for American Art; the Virginia and Bagley Wright, Class of 1946, Program Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art; Barbara and Gerald Essig; and Joshua R. Slocum, Class of 1998, and Sara Slocum. Additional support is provided by Stacey Roth Goergen, Class of 1990, and Robert B. Goergen; and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

About the Princeton University Art Museum

With a collecting history that extends back to 1755, the Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country, with collections that have grown to include more than 112,000 works of art ranging from ancient to contemporary art and spanning the globe. Committed to advancing Princeton’s teaching and research missions, the Art Museum also serves as a gateway to the University for visitors from around the world. 

The main Museum building is currently closed for the construction of a bold and welcoming new building, designed in partnership with Sir David Adjaye and slated to open in late 2024.

Art@Bainbridge is located at 158 Nassau Street in downtown Princeton. Admission is free. Art@Bainbridge hours are Tuesday to Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m, and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Please visit the Museum’s website for digital access to the collections, a diverse portfolio of virtual programs and updates on opportunities to visit in person. The Museum Store in Palmer Square, located at 56 Nassau Street in downtown Princeton, is open daily, or shop online at

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