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Kathleen Shaver


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Kathleen Shaver
Small Painting 11-C (red& brown)
Oil on paper
36" x 28"

About the Work
My paintings are best described as a search for the primal. My approach is informed by abstract expressionism and a love of paint. I work from a place where intuitive gestures and mark-making record a quest for a pre-linguistic awareness. I am inspired by the Lascaux cave painters, whose images transcend time, culture, and language. This quest for a primal, wordless image touches, what is to me, the deepest mystery of human existence: Where did I come from and where am I going? My paintings invite viewers to consider an existence that is not limited by words, preconceptions, or conventional identities, yet one that is framed by an unknowable mystery.

My artistic process can also be described as a primal searching. Although I work within the tradition of paint on canvas, I am constantly shifting my approach in pursuit of the unexpected. Discovery happens when I paint faster than I can think. I work on multiple pieces at a time, with canvases ranging in size from very large to very small. I may start with thin washes of paint combined with calligraphic lines, eventually building up to a thick, textured surface. To apply the paint, I use a variety of spatulas, palette knives, rollers, and misshapen old brushes as well as my hands. I let the work dry between sessions. I do not plan my approach.

Motivated by a kind of anxiety or doggedness combined with belief, I allow my intuitive and emotional self to react to the canvas and to determine the next step. Building up the paint surface and then scraping it down in areas, I seek to reveal something unknown. I hope that the viewer senses a discovery, beyond words, and is touched by the mystery of human existence that my work explores.

Kathleen Shaver is a Philadelphia painter who studied at Moore College of Art & Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). Her work has been included in a major survey of contemporary Philadelphia artists at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and in exhibits at PAFA, Woodmere Art Museum, the James A. Michener Art Museum, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, and Moore.

In addition to the Rodger LaPelle Galleries and 3rd Street Gallery in Philadelphia, Kathy has exhibited in galleries located in Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C. and Texas. She is the recipient of numerous awards for painting and her work is included in both private and corporate collections. Currently, she serves as the President of the Moore College of Art & Design Alumni Council.
Kathy is also a 1976 graduate of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Her first position was staff nurse and evening charge nurse on the Older Medical Unit at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Kathy also worked as an operating room nurse at Hahnemann and Graduate Hospitals in Philadelphia and was among the first group of nurses to be certified in operating room nursing.

In 2011, she completed a permanent installation of 27 paintings, The History of Nursing as Seen Through the Lens of Art, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. This work was presented as a gift form the HUP Alumni Association to celebrate 125 years of nursing at Penn.

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Donated By the artist