Portrait of the Artist

Virginia Shepley

Bridging the Divide

By Noelani Kirschner | August 2, 2021
From Above, 2021, 20.5 x 14 inches, acrylic gouache on paper.
From Above, 2021, 20.5 x 14 inches, acrylic gouache on paper.

In her abstract paintings, Virginia Shepley evokes the essence of human connection. “I am interested in exploring the often fleeting moment when we feel grounded and at peace,” she says. “For me, that moment is represented by a unification of opposites; a unique point of balance where counterparts exist in harmony.” Parabolic arches sweeping upward from the horizon line, along with their reverse reflections below it, divide her works in half. But upon closer inspection, we see that the colors of the arches fade and blend into each other, bringing an unexpected unity. Instead of Janus-faced opposites, the halves of the composition are one and each arch, a bridge to the next.

  • Be the Light, 2020, 30 x 22 inches, acrylic gouache on paper.

Shepley begins each work with a detailed sketch of the arches before introducing colors. She then applies acrylic gouache to paper. Her chosen substrate, she says, is meant to represent human fragility and the impermanence of existence. “My aim is for these works to feel hopeful and positive,” she says. “I live by a favorite quote from Anish Kapoor that says ‘We live in a fractured world. I have always seen it as my role to make wholeness.’ It is important to me as an artist to represent solutions instead of pointing out problems.”

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