Margaret Shirley is best known for her process paintings that combine muted or brilliant colors with texture and patterns observed in and collected from the natural world, including flora of all kinds. Much of Shirley's practice has been to build up the painting surfaces with repetitive patterns using graphite, ink and tempera, or sometimes letting the patterns of her found material speak for themselves. More recently, in the years since her retirement from teaching, Shirley has been drawn to the use of manufactured found materials, as well as references to the figure. She has begun to incorporate human forms and manmade content into her compositions. This exhibition will feature a range of her work from the 1980s through the present, showing the breadth of her techniques and aesthetic interests of the past 40 years.
Margaret Shirley studied at Yale University in Connecticut and Reed College in Portland. She received her MFA from Portland State University where she also taught. She has also served on the faculty of Mt. Hood Community College, Reed College, and Marylhurst University in Oregon. She has exhibited at the Laura Russo Gallery regularly since 1989. Other one-person exhibitions include shows at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, the Governor’s Office, Salem, OR, Del Mar College in Texas, Columbia College in Missouri, the University of Wisconsin, and the Oklahoma Art Center in Oklahoma City. A major retrospective exhibition of her work was held at the Feldenheimer Gallery at Reed College, Portland, OR in 2011. Her work is part of several collections including the Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA; the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, and Reed College, and Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.