Guest curated by Tom Patterson
Anne Kesler Shields: Geometries is part of a three-venue celebration of Shields’ work in the year of her 80th birthday, which also incorporates exhibitions at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) and the Salem College Fine Arts Center Gallery. To complement the other two exhibitions, the Charlotte and Philip Hanes Art Gallery is featuring a selection of geometrically focused abstract works that Shields made between 1963 and 1978.
Shields began this period of her art after discovering Josef Albers’ book Interaction of Color, then newly published. She had seen examples of his work but wasn’t familiar with the theories behind his art until she read his book and closely studied 150 color plates that illustrate principles discussed in the text, such as color relativity, intensity, and temperature, and the illusions of transparency and reversed grounds. Almost immediately she began experimenting with the dynamics of optical perception in a series of color-charged, dot-patterned paintings and prints that occupied her until around 1970 and brought her national attention.
In the early 1970s, while painting commissioned portraits to earn an income, Shields began exploring minimalist ideas in a series of drawings, prints and paintings. Her most ambitious efforts in this vein were for a mural design to be painted on a visually prominent building exterior in downtown Winston-Salem. She was one of two artists the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County commissioned in 1974 to create such designs. Her mural was painted on a long, horizontal wall measuring 1,650 square feet, in the middle of the block bounded by Cherry, Trade, Fourth, and Fifth streets. She divided the wall into six rectangular sections in shades of dark red ranging from purple on the left to orange on the right, all on a uniformly gray background. Against these red-hued rectangles she placed configurations of straight and right-angled, white lines mathematically ordered to suggest sequential shifts in perspective. The exhibition at the Hanes Gallery will include some of her working drawings for the mural project.