Using imagery of a single sheep, the Alice Shaw examines the tension between the antiquated photo subject and the contemporary perspective. Serving as a potent symbol, the sheep is a stand-in allowing Shaw to reference a past era—a time when farm animals were more ubiquitous in early-twentieth-century photography—and the cloning ability of the photograph with its near limitless ability to reproduce multiples from a single original. The new collection continues Shaw’s exploration on dichotomy and duplication while marking a shift in her practice with an outward-versus-autobiographical perspective. Cloned is comprised of photographic works that include both traditional and digital photos, stereo images and sculptural pieces.
Drawn to binaries since her early entry into photography, Alice Shaw has always kept a Diane Arbus book in her mind—the one planted on the family bookshelf growing up. The book cover bore the Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967. The twins fascinated Shaw as she noted their distinct similarities and differences. When Alice was 17, her mother gave birth to her twin sisters. The pair became frequent photo subjects of Shaw’s, deepening her interest in twinning. Past projects have often centered on the mirroring that manifests in self-portraits, as well as side-by-side comparisons seeking commonalities with unlikely others.
For Cloned, Shaw continues her exploration on duality by paying homage to rural photographs while repositioning them through a contemporary lens. The artist associates B&W images of animals with a bygone era, recalling a time when regal portrayals of livestock and farms were prevalent in the early twentieth century. Shaw selects the sheep to represent the past, as the quintessential symbol of cloning and as the basis for which Shaw discusses the photograph's ability to reproduce. While Cloned takes on a vintage quality, the artist presents her subject in newer constructions including structured dimensional pieces, a repetition of form via stereo camera, and side-by-side positive and negative prints. Shaw’s images evoke contrast and comparison, inviting a dialogue between the authenticity of the subject versus its duplicity when considering an original and its identical replication.
About the artist: Alice Shaw often infuses humor into her artwork. Though she was educated as a photographer she also utilizes other art forms to realize her concepts. Shaw is an Artadia Grant Awardee and is included in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Gallery 16 published her book, People Who Look Like Me, in 2006. In August of 2017 her permanent large-scale public artwork, No Other Lands Their Glory Know, was installed at The San Francisco International Airport in terminal G95.