Artist Shirley Woodson: A life captured in bold strokes

Shirley Woodson, artist, described her work process as "I listen to blues and I listen to jazz."

28 February 2022 Monday 09:52
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Artist Shirley Woodson: A life captured in bold strokes

"Does the music you are listening inspire the painting?" asked correspondent Rita Braver.

"Oh, definitely, definitely. A deeper, more vibrant color. This translation, this interpretation is part and parcel of the "What goes on."
Woodson's paintings are
rich. Bold strokes, vivid colors and bold lines are her hallmarks.

Braver stated, "When you saw your work, it was like something that a wild woman did. She might be just. Then, I met this wonderful schoolteacher. "What's the deal?"

She laughed, "Well, I multitask," she said.

And now, this 85-year-old-multi-tasker's work is being celebrated in her first one-woman show at her hometown museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Woodson's paintings over three decades are part of the exhibit "Shield of the Nile Reflections," she said. It highlights the river’s importance for civilization.

Woodson described her 1984 work, "Shield of the Nile No. Woodson stated, 2: "I wanted these figures to be in an environment that heals, restores, and pleasures -- all of the things water represents."

These paintings show some of Woodson’s recurring themes, including water, fish shells, horses, and humans, sometimes without facial features. She said that she had put the viewer to use to keep them thinking and to ask, "Why didn't she add a face to it?"

Her "September Wave" work includes a small self portrait of Woodson along with Edsel Reid (an art collector and curator). After he had seen one of her works, he met the two.

Braver asked Braver, "So, did you want to meet him?"

"Oh, yes, oh, yes. He bought a painting!

"The path to a woman's heart?"

"Absolutely, that woman's heart!" Woodson laughed.

They had two children. Woodson studied art at Wayne State University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He spent 26 years teaching high school and college art students.

Braver inquired, "Your work was being sold. Some museums were buying your work. Why did you continue teaching when you were still painting seriously?

She replied, "Teaching and being an artist were twofold for me. One feeds into the other." I just loved seeing people grow. It was also a learning experience. I was able to paint in the evenings, and almost every room in my house was painted by me."

She said that her paintings were meant to mirror the way we all manage many things.

Woodson has been awarded numerous awards at the local and national level, but she feels that her recognition is slow.

"Do you believe it's discrimination in some way?" Braver was asked.

"Of course."

It's amazing that you are able to have a solo show at the most prestigious Detroit art gallery. What took them so long?

Woodson laughed, "Well, they are not the only ones." It's all about survival. It's about achieving your goals and moving forward.




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