David Omar Rosario

About Alan Shields

A prominent and idiosyncratic figure in the New York art world of the 1970s, Alan Shields made vibrant collages from scraps of cloth, un-stretched canvas, rope, beads, wood, and pipe cleaners, staining the stitched and woven surfaces of his three-dimensional paintings with dye. Shields grew up on a farm in Kansas, where he learned to sew from his mother and sisters, later employing the skill in his machine-stitched, textile-like works. Speaking of his wide range of materials, he once said, “It’s just like farming. It’s good to rotate crops. It’s good to change media.” His compositions sometimes feature psychedelic coloring and recurring characters, such as Worm, an alter ego for Shields represented by a strip of fabric waving across the canvas; or imagery that evokes non-Western cultures, such as mandalas and constellations. He also produced prints and experimented with jewelry, animation, sculpture, and—influenced by Buckminster Fuller—built spherical or tepee-like structures. He is considered a forerunner to contemporary artists such as Jessica Stockholder, Jim Drain, and John Bock.

American, 1944-2005, Herington, Kansas, based in New York, New York