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A Winston-Salem icon, artist, and trailblazer for women artists in the South, Anne Kesler Shields, lost her battle with cancer October 6, 2012. She was born January 27, 1932, in Winston-Salem and was a lifelong resident. She received a classical art education at Hollins College, and pursued advanced art studies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, ME, and the Hans Hoffmann School of Fine Art in Provincetown, MA (1957). She received an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She maintained an active art career from her early twenties until her death, resulting in her having been touted as Winston-Salem’s “most accomplished, living native-born artist.”
Building the Arts in Winston-Salem
Anne Kesler Shields worked in a variety of mediums and genres, including portraiture, abstract painting, landscape and collages. In her more recent work she used appropriated images from current events and pop culture juxtaposed with classical art works. An active member in developing the Winston-Salem arts community, she helped to found Associated Artists of Winston-Salem and the Winston-Salem Gallery of Fine Arts, which became the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), where she also served on the board.
View Anne Kesler Shields’ Current Exhibits
Her work is currently being exhibited simultaneously at:
Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA)
At SECCA you’ll find, “Anne Kesler Shields: A 50-Year Retrospective”
Wake Forest University
At Wake Forest, there is currently an exhibit in the Charlotte and Phillip Hanes Art Gallery: “Anne Kesler Shields: Geometrics 1960’s & 1970’s
“60 Years: Portraits & Appropriated Images” is an art exhibit at Salem College today featuring the works of Anne Kesler Shields.
I was fortunate to meet Anne Kesler Shields in June, 2011 at a reception for her exhibit, “DIPTYCHS: Appropriated Image Installation Inspired by the Reynolda House Collection”. The huge popping prints at Artworks Gallery caught my attention and drew viewers in.
“Proud” depicts a confident Sharon Stone beside an equally sanguine painting of “John Spooner”, a work by painter John Singleton Copley in 1763. Demonstrating irony, “Peaceable Kingdom of the Branch,” by Edward Hicks depicts a vision of man in the 1800’s in harmony with nature, is offset by a photograph of the polar bear, a species now endangered by global warming.
Although separated by decades and color, Shields’ gutsy pairings demonstrate the relationship between the two images. The show contains many erotic images. We are reminded that the themes are not new, but Shield’s juxtapositions nudge us to see the old in a new light. This ability to expose human nature through her collages has earned Shields exhibits in places like Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY; the North Carolina Museum of Art, and Hollins University in Virginia, among others.
“You and I probably see more pictures in one day than a person living in the nineteenth century saw in a lifetime!…I attempt to put some order into the visual clutter. By comparing contemporary advertising and news photographs with images from art history, we see that human passions change little through the ages and from one culture to another.” – Anne Kesler Shields
Sources: www.SouthernAsBiscuits.com, Winston-Salem Journal obituaries, photos courtesy of Kristi Johnson Marion. All rights reserved
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