The process paintings of Margaret Shirley combine subtle color with texture and patterns observed in found objects, such as leaves, seaweed or seed pods. In this exhibition, Shirley builds up the painting surface with repetitive patterns of drawn plant forms using graphite and oils. Her work is inspired by and often created from the things she sees and constantly gathers from the world around her. She incorporates collage applying leaves and other natural objects directly onto her paintings. In this series, Shirley continues to explore process but her art marking is more literal than before, rendering natural forms into abstract patterns instead of the abstract generation of line upon line. Commenting on this Shirley says, “I hope, thus, to create works in which the representational and the abstract elements illuminate and enhance each other.” The final result is one of both intricate design and understated beauty. 

Margaret Shirley studied at Yale University in Connecticut and Reed College in Portland. She received her MFA from Portland State University where she has also taught. Other teaching experience includes Mt. Hood Community College, Reed College, and Maryhurst University in Oregon. She has exhibited her work at the Laura Russo Gallery regularly since 1989 and has had other one-person exhibitions that include the Oregon Health Sciences University, 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. Her work is included in the collection of the Tacoma Art Museum, Reed College, Portland State University, among others.