Her work includes photography, film, artist books and collaborative performances, all of which cohere through the act of drawing. For Keeley, drawing is a way to slow down the act of perception to explore the structural essence of an object and the spirit of a space or institution, more as a meditation than as a task to be accomplished.
The centerpiece of this new exhibition is a commissioned 58-foot-long wall drawing based on Keeley’s research into PEM’s history and its collection, in particular the remarkable holdings of the Phillips Library. Keeley has visited PEM several times since 2013 to spend time with the Phillips Library collection. She returned to PEM this fall to create the work in the gallery, drawing on her detailed research while welcoming spontaneity and accident into her creative process. The exhibition also includes works from PEM’s collection, including tea bowls, woodblock-printed books and selected pages from the diary of famed zoologist and archaeologist Edward Sylvester Morse, one of the museum’s early directors, who, like Keeley, found great inspiration from several extended visits to Japan.
Shelagh Keeley: Drawn to Place is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum. The exhibition is made possible by the generosity of Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation. Additional support was provided by individuals who support the Exhibition Innovation Fund: Jennifer and Andrew Borggaard, James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes, Kate and Ford O’Neil, and Henry and Callie Brauer. We also recognize the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.
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