Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Ikebana Ziggurat — A forthcoming show with Kathleen McShane

Jun 07, 2018 - Ellen Bahr

I met Kathleen McShane many years ago. She and my partner, John Hosford, were students together at Alfred University and have remained friends. Last summer when she was visiting Alfred, we began planning for a two-person show that will open this fall at Alfred University’s Cohen Center Gallery. The working title for the show is “Ikebana Ziggurat.”


From the show proposal:


“Drawing and photography share a literal and conceptual planar challenge, which Kathleen McShane investigates through collaged drawings of hovering forms in implied ‘landscapes’ and Ellen Bahr through formalist photographs. Both artists construct representational space that relies on abstraction — they define and imply space through real or suggested ground planes, atmospheric perspective, and the relationships between objects. Their work can be located within a kind of conceptual ikebana, with line, shape, and form underpinning a formalist triangle comparable to the ikebana idea as a formalist model for the universe.”


Kathleen McShane is an American artist who spent years living in New York, Philadelphia, and Detroit, and now lives in Texas. She has degrees from the School of Art and Design at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and Cranbrook Academy of Art. She teaches at Texas State University.


She has exhibited her photo-collaged drawings, drawing installations and objects at Optical Project in Houston, Sofa Gallery and Big Medium Gallery in Austin, Drawing Biennial at SCA Rogers Gallery San Antonio, the Brooklyn Museum, The Drawing Center in New York, Weatherspoon Museum in North Carolina, Aldrich Museum in Connecticut, Paul Kotula Projects and Susanne Hilberry Gallery and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit in Detroit, Michigan, Carroll and Sons in Boston, Massachusetts, among many other venues. Her work is included in private and public collections both nationally and internationally, including the Sally and Wynn Kramarsky Collection, Fidelity, Entemann Collection Germany and James Rosenquist.


She has had artist residencies at MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, Cité des Arts in Paris, Frans Masereel Centrum in Kasterlee, Belgium, the Millay Colony in Austerlitz, New York, VCCA in Virginia, and upcoming at Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland.


McShane’s work involves a language of reductive abstraction and an off-kilter kind of conceptualism; elements often occupy a strange and hovering kind of space, with multiple, implied ground planes.  Her collaged drawings include an atmospheric perspective of closer blacks into grays, and hazy washes often station one at the foreground in much of the work. Beyond are areas of hovering forms, text, and photographic or canvas collage elements across wide open space. If thought occupies space, the work seems to give form to some sense of that fleeting placeness.