Artist Bio: Shelah Horvitz started training at the age of four under her mother, Frances Bieler Horvitz, who attended the Boston Museum School. Her formal education led to degrees in English Literature (B.A. Brown University), Painting (M.F.A. UTSA) and Software Engineering (B.S. UMass/Dartmouth). However, because Modernism held sway during her formative years and she is a realistic artist, she is mostly self-taught. She has been painting professionally since the early ’80s and has exhibited in galleries and museums across the U.S. Her work has appeared in books, magazines, scholarly papers and blogs all over the US, Europe, and as far away as Japan. She currently lives with her husband and dog in the Maine woods and is represented by the gallery Stone Sparrow NYC.
Painting is a tool by which I pass through surfaces to deeper realities. I use it to inquire about the commonalities and differences between myself, other people, and the world around me. My work always has psychological and philosophical components and I try to design each piece so that it looks formally simple but it is semantically complex, so that as the viewer changes in mood, experience and worldview, the meaning of the work changes with them.
What is your “Dreamland”?
My dreamland is a fantasy where there is no barrier between Us and Them, where our commonalities and uniquenesses are embraced, where each of us is able to achieve our own potential, and where we truly see and respect each other and nature.
I have been fighting for this dreamland since I started painting; I literally try to use painting to change the world. I used to do political paintings where the meanings were explicit and overt, but over time I realized that alienated exactly the audience I want to address. Now my work tries to function on a deep nonverbal level, so the audience is less likely to throw up defenses. My work seeks to connect us, soul to soul, to establish a visceral level of empathy.