Feb. 28, 2020 - April 9, 2020
Alan Shields (1944-2005) was a signal figure in American post-minimalism, combining diverse materials in innovative, unexpected ways, often referring to (and interrogating) the grid. Moving from rural Kansas to New York City in 1968, his free-hanging fabric works – hand sewn, vibrantly colored, and sometimes bejeweled – quickly gained the young artist notoriety, earning him a spot on Paula Cooper Gallery’s revered roster. In an expansive oeuvre that deftly merged surface into support, Shields dared to tease out associations between art and craft. His hippie-like use of dying and beading soft materials gently upended gender stereotypes that often accompany those categories, meanwhile he fashioned himself into a countercultural figure often decked out in his own work. In 1971, Shields began collaborating with artist and printmaking guru William Weege. Working at Weege’s Jones Road Print Shop & Stable in Barneveld, Wisconsin, Shields was vigorously experimental, stitching, dying, flocking, collaging, perforating, embossing, and weaving his prints, which were generally made in very small editions and sometimes utilized handmade pulp paper. The results of this fertile working friendship constitute a significant part of Shields’ life work. In Fan Dance, CvsD will exhibit a selection of Shields prints, primarily drawn from the early-to- mid 1970s, all of them executed together with Weege, many from a marathon session in 1974 that yielded twelve new editions. Writing of these specific works, fellow artist Howardena Pindell said: “Shields’ work reflects his involvement with the thrifty revitalization and ‘reinvention’ of materials, redefining their purposes, nulling their pre-established limitations...The act of work becomes a constant momentum, with prints as tangible indicators of new inventions in his visual vocabulary.” In addition to these exciting printworks, the exhibition will include two of Shields’ very rare artist books and a major sculptural work made of a cylinder of fabric that hangs from the ceiling.