September 14, 2010

Dual exhibit features Shay's sculpture, watercolors

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A retrospective, in the art world, refers to an exhibit showing the development of an artist’s work over a period of time. For the viewer, it is an education, a new perspective, an avenue to enhance appreciation. For the artist, sometimes it’s an adventure.

The University Museum at Southern Illinois University Carbondale presents “Ghosts: A Retrospective -- Ed Shay,” a dual exhibit featuring, in one exhibit, Shay’s sculpture, and in another, his watercolors.

A reception for both exhibits is 4-7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 17 at the museum. The sculptures exhibit opened Aug. 24 and continues through Oct. 30. The watercolor exhibit opens today (Sept. 14), and continues through Oct. 30 as well. The reception is free, and includes Ed Shay’s gallery talks, for sculpture at 5 p.m. and for watercolors at 6 p.m. A catalog is included with the exhibit.

“These pieces (for the exhibit) are the archaeological finds of my psychic past,” Shay noted in his artist’s statement. “They are ghosts. They are metaphors. They are visualized dreams. They present a record of how I saw the world psychologically at different stages of my life.”

Some of his sculptural work, he notes, began as theater sets he created in the backyard -- theater sets for plays staged in the mind. He described it as a sort of outward expression of looking inward -- art through self-discovery, but a “self” that in some ways is universal.

One of the joys of a retrospective is the new dialogue created by the artistic reunion. One of the challenges of a retrospective is locating the artwork. In Shay’s case, some of the pieces required an international paper chase, while others required rescheduling due to inclement weather. And some of the pieces were just across the street, in Altgeld Hall.

A Boston native, Shay earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Murray State University in 1965 and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Illinois in 1971. He has more than four decades as a professional artist.

Shay, a professor emeritus, teaches part-time in the School of Art and Design. He joined the SIUC faculty in 1978 as a visiting professor of painting, drawing and printmaking. His work centers on watercolors, oils and cast bronze sculpture. He has three National Endowment for the Arts grants -- one each in printmaking, painting, and works on paper. He also has to his credit three Illinois Arts Council Artists Fellowships.