PRINT March 1986


Alan Shields’ works of paper.

THREADS DON’T HIDE IN THE weave of Alan Shields’ pieces, but are used as color and line. Process and making have always been visible, crucial components in his diverse works. The easy flow of one medium into another in his art is not a big deal to him; it’s done with ease, as part of a visual and ecological idea in which materials are recycled in an ever growing repertoire that defies closure. (Most obviously, for example, the canvas doubles as sculpture.) The works in progress shown here, at two different locations, relate to Shields’ ongoing “Raggedy Circumnavigation” series, begun in 1984, in handmade paper, and including prints, monotypes, watercolors, and paper samples.

The column of pictures on the near right shows the papermaking process that Shields designed for his works, and that is executed at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford Village, New York. At the top, Tom Strianese (left) and Steve Reeves apply string to shaped frames that will eventually produce grids of paper. Next, a strung frame is dipped in pulp; a frame with pulp clinging to it is laid in a press; and, at bottom, Shields holds a sheet of the paper. He has begun to print color on the paper surface away from the viewer.

At the far right is the music room in Shields’ house, on Shelter Island, New York. He uses this room as a studio in winter. The works on the walls and table, all from the “Raggedy Circumnavigation” series, show the handmade paper in various stages of Shields’ process—printed, painted, sewn.