“Old Growth” Works by Roberta Shea
Clare Gallery’s second 20th anniversary exhibition, Old Growth includes works by Connecticut artist Roberta Shea. Shea started her artistic practice later in life. She always knew she loved experimenting with painting and drawing, but when she moved to new surroundings, her creative energy motivated her to pursue a professional practice. She explains: “It wasn’t until we moved to Newtown, Connecticut, with its spectacular view across the street from our house, that I discovered my path and a new direction to follow.”
Shea believes that it is “never too late to start over and make your mark,” and her marks are mesmerizing. You cannot help but get caught up in the work’s rhythm, space, and emotional color palettes. The work draws you in to investigate the activity on the surface, yet it also asks you to step back to view the entire work. Her process is very physical with paint being dripped, scrapped, dragged, and layered, creating thick impasto and thin surfaces of abstract representation. When you focus on one part, it becomes its own abstract painting. Then, if you step back, a larger landscape reveals itself.
Shea’s works evoke the spirit of nature, as she captures its emotional color. Her physical mark-making mimics nature’s powerful process of renewal. Her work expresses nature’s mystical quality. We see nature through Shea’s eyes: “I feel the primary purpose of art is to provide ways of looking at the world that stimulate and recharge the human imagination and at the same time provide a much-needed respite from the chaos of contemporary life.”
Roberta Shea was an art teacher at Masuk High School in Monroe, CT. Since 2007, she has been an active docent at the New Britain Museum of American Art, leading masterpiece tours. Her work has been included in group shows at the Society of Creative Arts, the Mattatuck Museum, the Washington Art Association & Gallery, the Ridgefield Guild of Artists, the New Britain Museum of American Art, and various Connecticut libraries. Solo exhibitions have been shown at Cartus Corporation, various Connecticut libraries, and Mercy by the Sea in Madison, CT. Shea’s distinguished awards include the 2021 Connecticut Women Artists Juried Exhibition “Best in Show,” and second-place awards in 2018 at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists Juried Member Show and the Washington Arts Association Juried Member Show. Recently, several of her paintings were selected for the fall 2021 Showtime television series, The Affair.
Roberta Shea received a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Southern Connecticut State University and completed graduate coursework, with Anna Audette and colorist Howard Fussiner, at Yale University.