Energetic, enthusiastic and thought provoking are just a few of the words used to describe artist Thom Shaw. The Taft Museum of Art presented Shaw as the 2005 Duncanson Artist-in-Residence November 1–14, 2005.
During his residency, Shaw engaged with students, teachers, and the public in workshops, gallery talks and other presentations. His exhibition, Personal Impressions was on view November 1–30.
Shaw, a Cincinnati-based artist who works largely in black and white, employs woodcuts, pen-and-ink drawing, and painting. Over the past decade or so, Shaw has taken the pulse of the African-American community and others in the inner city, and he is not optimistic about their condition, although he is hopeful that his work might become a vehicle for social change.
Shaw’s residency overlaped with the exhibition Black is a Color: African American Art from the Corcoran Gallery of Art September 23–November 20. The exhibition features works by African American artists who predominately used a black and white palette. Subject matter addresses issues such as racial and cultural heritage, identity, history, protest, and spirituality. Shaw’s work perfectly complements the exhibition.
Thom Shaw, an African-American, received formal training at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and Cranbrook Academy of Fine Arts in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Shaw does not sugar coat his renderings. Some, in viewing this work have argued that Shaw’s harsh depictions either glamorize gang activity, or reinforce pervasive media imagery. Shaw tends to do neither. Rather, the artist wishes to impart his direct observation. If the artist may be said to focus on the negative, he calls attention to race and suffocating urban conditions that have, in fact, largely disappeared from the media radar screen in recent years. “I hope… that people can become part of the solution and not the problem”, states Shaw. “I enjoy working in black and white because of its starkness and the contrast it represents”. “There is no room for gray, life is a series of black and white events, and therefore it becomes an eyebrow raiser.”
Shaw has exhibited widely in Ohio, as well as many national and international venues.