Inflated objects have long been at the forefront of innovative design and advancement. Since the 18th century, pneumatic structures have filled our skies and sprung up from the ground, defying traditional forms and, at times, gravity. Inflated structures began as aviation inventions, intended for warfare, surveillance, or travel. Today, inflated objects are ubiquitous in our daily lives, frequently incorporated into play and decoration, such as children’s bounce houses, pool or beach toys, and blow-up chairs. 

Pop Up: Inflated Sculpture celebrates contemporary inflatable art’s versatility of design, materiality, and technology. Featuring three artists and artist teams leading the field of pneumatic sculpture—Claire Ashley, Pneuhaus, and Tamar Ettun—Pop Up will fill space both inside and outside Shelburne Museum. Every two months, a different artist will transform the museum’s grounds, placing a new outdoor inflated artwork in conversation with nearby historic structures and environments. Additional multimedia artwork by each artist will create dialogue with the museum’s historic collections at various indoor locations throughout the duration of the exhibition. With their large sensuous forms and bold pops of color, these sculptures convey playful humor and wonder while also facilitating discussions about larger sensory, sociopolitical, and cultural topics. 

To learn more about this exhibition and view additional images, please visit this website for updates throughout the duration of the exhibition.

Due to the vulnerable nature of the materials, the outdoor sculptures will not be on view on days with excessive wind. 

Outdoor Sculpture Schedule and Locations

Tamar Ettun: May 13—July 7, Near Circus Building

Pneuhaus: July 8—September 1, In between Ticonderoga and Diamond Barn

Claire Ashley: September 2—October 22, Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building

Indoor Sculpture Locations

Tamar Ettun: Circus Building

Pneuhaus: Lighthouse

Claire Ashley: Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building


Museum Grounds


May 13, 2023 - Opening

Oct 22, 2023 - Closing

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Tamar Ettun, Lili and Lilu at Shelburne Museum, 2023. Parachute nylon fabric and paint, 8 x 4 x 4 ft. Courtesy of the artist. Photographs by Daria Bishop.

Tamar Ettun

May 13—July 7
Near Circus Building

With their bold colors, large scale, and ethereal movement, Tamar Ettun’s inflated sculptures unapologetically take up and embody space. Drawing on the multisensory nature of this adaptive medium, her inflatables and their meditative movement provide a place for reflection and healing. Ettun uses parachute material, chosen in reference to her mandatory service in the Israeli army, to create a feminist space. She challenges the fabric’s preconceived associations with the military and masculinity by celebrating sewing and other techniques and labor traditionally seen as women’s work. 

Lili and Lilu, two new works designed for this exhibition, are a part of Ettun’s ongoing series based on Lilit (Lilith), a complex figure from ancient Sumerian, Akkadian and Judaic mythology. Lilit is usually interpreted as a dangerous and evil spirit, but in this series, Ettun liberates the demon from this archetype and explores her empathy. Titled after the names of early demons predating Lilit, Lili and Lilu are placed in dialogue with one another. Appearing like “living, colorful breathing creatures,” as described by Ettun, the sculptures move in concert with the air within and surrounding their forms. Further animating the sculptures are hand-painted eyes, a first for the artist while working in this medium.  

Tamar Ettun, Demon Trap. Clay and mixed material. Clay, dyed shibori textile, stick, and thread. Courtesy of the artist.

May 13—October 22
Circus Building

Playfully integrated into Roy Arnold’s (1892–1976) miniature circus collection are seven of multidisciplinary artist Tamar Ettun’s stoneware containers. Inspired by the sewing patterns she uses for her inflatable sculptures, these spirited vessels function as demon traps for Lilit (Lilith), an antihero figure with origins in ancient Sumerian, Akkadian and Judaic mythology. A misunderstood character, she was a symbol for dangerous desire and was considered to be an evil entity. She appears on ritualistic incantation bowls that date back to the second century, which were used to ward off harmful and malevolent spirits. “Enthralled by these ancient images,” Ettun writes, “I developed my own language that revives these practices through a contemporary feminist lens, subverting Lilit’s misogynistic archetype and revamping her image as an Empathic Demon.” Ettun celebrates Lilit’s release from her vilified idiom by reimagining the incantation bowls for present-day demons—each a child of Lilit’s, with their own name and nature-inspired shapes.  


Tamar Ettun, Mauve Bird with Yellow Teeth Red Feathers Green Feet and a Rose Belly, Part: Yellow at Shelburne Museum, 2023. Digital video. Courtesy of the artist. Photography by Parker Silver.

Mauve Bird with Yellow Teeth Red Feathers Green Feet and a Rose Belly, Part: Yellow is the second installation of a four-part project created by Tamar Ettun first performed by The Moving Company, a dance collective founded by the artist in 2013. Employing movement in landscape along with everyday objects, food, sound, and inflated sculpture, the multisensory series examines the complexities of different primal emotions, and each performance is symbolized by a different color and season. Yellow explores desire, which can be both intense and selfless, and is set in within a lush and forested springtime landscape. As performers gather while wearing—and sometimes partially obscured by—bright yellow costumes, this exploration of desire builds into a community event. Moving together in the landscape, enacting absurd physical tasks, and manipulating objects, Yellow’s performers present an abstracted and therapeutic narrative. As in her clay and inflated sculptures, Ettun challenges how the dualities inherent to objects can also be explored in humans’ relationships to objects and each other. Adapting the piece specifically for this site, Ettun designed the Yellow performance to be projected onto an inflated yellow ball. 

Tamar Ettun and yellow inflatable sculptures. Courtesy of the artist. Photography by Misha Davydov.

Tamar Ettun grew up in an Orthodox Jewish environment in Jerusalem and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Informed by her upbringing and interests in somatic empathy, trauma-healing modalities, and rituals, Ettun creates multimedia works of art using sculpture, textiles, and performance. She is also the founder and director of The Moving Company, an artist dance and performance collective, and currently teaches at Columbia University School of Arts and Parsons School of Design, both in New York. Ettun received her MFA from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, in 2010. She studied at Cooper Union in New York in 2007 while earning her BFA from Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem). Her numerous exhibitions and performances include Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, New York; Art Omi, Ghent, New York; The Jewish Museum, New York; Uppsala Museum of Art, Sweden; Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, New York; and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, among others. Ettun has received honors from several organizations, including the Pollock Krasner Foundation, the Chinati Foundation, and the Alice English Kimball Fellowship. 

Learn more about Ettun’s past exhibitions and work on her website.

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Pneuhaus, Currents, 2023. Courtesy of the artists.


July 8—September 1
In between Ticonderoga and Diamond Barn

For Pneuhaus, each new project is an opportunity to build on previous techniques and experimentations. Through playful innovation, the studio team creates works of art that beguile and excite curiosity through their explorations of form, space, light, and color. 

Created for this exhibition, Currents is an assemblage of thousands of vibrant tubular spikes that undulate nimbly in the wind. Each cone is composed from multiple segments of highly tensioned seams, ensuring durability through an even distribution of force and creating graceful articulations of movement. When the spikes gesture in unison, Pneuhaus says, “they create a dynamic and dazzling display that invites viewers to reflect on the ambient forces of nature which surround them.” 

The aquatic forms of Currents are at play in its deliberate siting near the museum’s two maritime structures, the steamboat Ticonderoga and Colchester Reef Lighthouse. Pneuhaus took inspiration from sea urchins, who use their spike-like spines to move fluidly across the ocean floor. “Currents brings the subtle forces of the ocean’s depths to the surface,” the artists explain, “re-contextualizing a marine lifeform that might seem distant or intimidating as one which we are happily connected to.” 


Pneuhaus, Chromatic Lattice. Courtesy of the artists.

May 13—October 22

Informed by the technological innovations Pneuhaus developed through their inflated works of art, Chromatic Lattice is a 3D-printed sculpture comprised of more than 38,000 hand-assembled pieces. Chromatic Lattice uses repeating designs of colors, forms, and negative space inspired by optical illusions and moiré patterning, where the sculpture creates a rippling effect that visually transforms in tandem with visitors’ movement. “The Lattice is only fully realized through interaction, as this extraordinary visual effect does not exist in the artwork alone but is rather created through the live encounter of the sculpture and the viewer,” the studio team explains. “This interactivity ensures the piece’s vitality, encouraging viewers to return as Lattice changes responsively to them time and again.”

The subtle shifts in pattern and color, and the role of different perspectives in bringing those shifts to light, symbolize the strengths of diversity within a community. When its many individual pieces are put together, Chromatic Lattice creates a complex crystalline structure that is resilient and strong. “As a team-based studio ourselves, we conceived Chromatic Lattice as a celebration of the power of collaboration and community,” Pneuhaus says.


Levi Bedall, August Lehrecke, and Matthew Muller, co-founders of Pneuhaus. Courtesy of the artists.

Based in Providence, Rhode Island, Pneuhaus is a studio team comprised of Levi Bedall, August (Augie) Lehrecke, and Matthew (Matt) Muller. As architects, designers, and artists, they create immersive sculptures and installations primarily out of fabric and air. The group was co-founded in 2014 by Muller and Lehrecke, both of whom earned their BFAs in furniture design at the Rhode Island School of Design. Bedall, who earned his BS in architecture from The Ohio State University, joined the studio in 2014.Their pneumatic installations have been widely exhibited at public spaces, festivals, and arts events, including Light and Play: An Interactive Art Experience at Peoria Arts, Arizona; Charlotte International Arts Festival, North Carolina; Paseo Project. Taos, New Mexico; BLINK Cincinnati; Pawtucket Arts Festival, Rhode Island; Momentum Festival, Toledo, Ohio; PVDFEST, Providence, Rhode Island; and Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, Nevada. Their work has also been featured in Designboom, Hyperallergic, and Colossal, and they were featured in the 2019 Phaidon publication Bubbletecture: Inflated Architecture and Design.

Learn more about Pneuhaus on their website.

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Claire Ashley, Psychedelic Selkie and Adam’s Madam at Shelburne Museum, 2021–23. Spray paint, acrylic, household enamel, ripstop nylon, upholstery plastic, Lycra, and fans. Courtesy of the artist.

Claire Ashley

September 2—October 22
Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building

Claire Ashley’s three large-scale painted inflated sculptures defy the physical boundaries of the Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building’s porticos and disrupt the classical order of the structure’s Greek Revival style. The artist, who “seeks to explode the possibilities for painting,” works beyond canvas’s traditionally rigid physical limitations by using amorphously shaped sculpture. In her work, which eludes easy categorization, Ashley “mines the language of painterly abstraction, monumental sculpture, slapstick humor, and pop art to transform mundane industrial materials into inflatable painted sculptures,” as she states. Employing loud colors, irregular shapes, and an exaggerated scale, her inflated sculptures challenge art-historical male precedents and standards while also engaging in conversations about abstract painting, self-portraiture, utopian architecture, and feminism.

B.A.I.R.N.S. (A Gaggle) by Claire Ashely on Exhibit at Shelburne Museum, 2023. Photography by Andy Duback.

May 13—October 22
Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building

A selection of Claire Ashley’s painted inflatable sculptures is temporarily installed in the basement and throughout the first level of the Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building. The artist, who “seeks to explode the possibilities for painting,” works beyond canvas’s traditionally rigid physical limitations by using amorphously shaped sculpture. Ashley claims that the painted surfaces of her anthropomorphic sculptures function like “a tattooed skin of sorts on a kind of hybrid body.” 

Ashley’s goal of democratizing fine art through accessible sculpture, her exploration of unstructured forms, and her emotive and colorful application of paint are not unlike the radical innovations Impressionist artists explored centuries earlier. Ashley created the work seen here specifically to be in conversation with the Museum’s Impressionist art collection, using a softer gradient palette and forms found in nature such as seedpods, cocoons, and plant forms. Created for this exhibition, Hot Rock (Gnarly Weed) grows out of the building’s iconic circular stairwell and, as Ashley notes, is “suggestive of a beanstalk or tree branch, perhaps.” 

Claire Ashley. Courtesy of the artist. Photography by Chester Alamo Costello.

Claire Ashley was born and raised in Scotland and is currently based in Chicago, where she teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the departments of contemporary practices and painting and drawing. She received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her BFA from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, Scotland. Ashley’s artwork has been exhibited widely at venues such as the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, England; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; Milwaukee Art Museum, DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts; the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago; and many more. Her work has also been featured in numerous publications such as VICE, Artforum, the Boston Globe, and the Chicago Tribune.

Learn more about Ashley’s past exhibitions and work on her website.

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