Skip navigation

Lesley Shipley was looking to further her education somewhere that was “friendly to feminist perspectives.”

She found that at Bryn Mawr, a women’s college in Pennsylvania. There, she completed her MA and Ph.D in History of Art and also lectured in the History of Art department.

When she heard about an open position in Moore’s graduate program in Studio Art, it felt like the next perfect fit.

“I’ve always wanted to teach at an art school, and I was excited about Moore because of its mission and dedication to female students, even though the graduate program is co-ed. I also thought it would be exciting to work in a developing graduate program and have the creative potential to develop the curriculum.”

Shipley guided Studio Art students through the written thesis process this spring and is currently teaching Art History to Studio Art and Art Education students this summer.

“I’m teaching a class in contemporary art, focusing on current trends in art, like globalism and social practice,” she said. “We’ll look at other themes, like place, memory, identity, and socially engaged art.”

In addition to her other degrees, Shipley has an MFA in Painting from American University. Her studio work has evolved from abstract painting to drawings of invented characters and forms using pen and ink on mylar and paper.

“Towards the end of the (MFA) graduate program I started doing spiral drawings, fine pen and ink drawings on mylar that were layered.  I then translated them into sound pieces. I recorded myself drawing, which was a really interesting shift.”

While she was in graduate school for painting, Shipley discovered she really enjoyed research and theory. She found it enhanced her studio practice to write and research the history of other artists.

At American University, she took an art history class with Mary Garrard, a Renaissance art historian who became her mentor and encouraged her to pursue her interest in research. That led to her studies at Bryn Mawr College.

“There, I shifted from Renaissance to modern and contemporary art,” she said. “I wanted to study with Lisa Saltzman.  Her scholarship has had a major impact on my thinking about issues of identity and the role of history and memory in contemporary art.  I also liked Bryn Mawr because it was feminist friendly. Garrard is also a pioneer in the early feminist movement and feminist art history. I was interested in writing about women artists.”

So Shipley wrote her doctoral dissertation on artist Lee Bontecou, Specific Objects: Lee Bontecou’s Steel and Canvas Reliefs, 1959-1964. “She [Bontecou] wasn’t well-known at the time I started writing, so I decided to focus on her sculptures from the 1960s, their critical reception over the past forty years.  I also examined Bontecou's own statements about her work.”

“I wrote my final chapter on how her work speaks to issues of war,” Shipley said. “She was influenced by her experiences as a child growing up during WWII.”

The chapter has been accepted into an anthology on women and war that will be published this summer.

Published on July 2nd, 2013