Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Ward Shelley

Ward Shelley

Ward Shelley lives and works as an artist in New York. He specializes in large projects that freely mix sculpture, architecture and performance as well as his series of timeline paintings. Shelley has exhibited in more than 10 countries. His work is in the collections of several museums including the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Ward Shelley received a painting and Sculpture award from the Joan Mitchell foundation and has been a fellow of the American Academy in Rome since 2006. He has received NYFA and NEA fellowships in sculpture and new media categories and a Bessie Award for installation art, as well as private foundation grants from the Jerome Foundation and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.
The part of my work that is included in the Brooklyn Museum's collection is from my series of timeline drawings. I think of these as historical portraits. Much as the appearance of the person to be painted is a major determinant in a portrait, historical facts determine the shape of these drawings to a great degree. However, they are highly subjective in their organization and design, as well - the transcribing of history is always interpretive. Usually I choose topics from art or cultural history, such as the arc of an artist's career and his or her influences, or the effect of particular ideas on an aesthetic or political movement. I am interested in the mutually formative relationship between art and society - the back and forth effect of art shaping culture, and culture, in the largest sense, shaping art. Women artists and feminists in particular are a natural and appropriate part of this work.

As the content of my work is historical, it necessarily contains political points of view. My position as a feminist is that while there are historical reasons for conditions of gender inequality, there are no moral reasons. If we humans have the ability to move beyond our history, it is our moral obligation to do so. I work toward a world where feminist issues are inseparable from humanist issues and concern for the other is inseparable from concern for the self. How can we all not be feminists?

View Ward Shelley's CV (PDF)

Carolee Schneemann Chart ver. 1Matrilineage, ver.1

Brooklyn, NY
United States

427 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11222
United States

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