Artist Statement

“Lela Shields strives to reveal the fragility of life, utilizing delicate line work and detailing in an ultra-fine balance between human, animal and spiritual realms. Shields crafts subtle narratives while simultaneously playing with chance, technique and pure imagination...”

Like a collector searching for rare artifacts, I am constantly sifting through experience and imagination, looking to extract the strikingly curious, inspirational and thought provoking. Within this process, I feel a certain affinity with Europe's 17th century "Cabinets of Curiosity", small one-room museums that eclectically displayed oddities retrieved from distant corners of the world.

Drawing from the natural and man-made, and from reality and fiction alike, Cabinets of Curiosity showcased objects that demanded further exploration, and that pointed to unseen mysteries that lie within the layered reality we call "our world." With their sense of displaced origin, romantic oddity, and ambiguous narrative, these collections opened up the same spaces I am always searching to reveal in my own work.

Whenever I approach a new drawing or painting, I come without preconceived notions of what the piece will be, resulting in a process that is both simple and direct. I intuitively gravitate towards the beautiful, painful, ludicrous, ugly, and scary, as well as things that I long for. There are no filters, no plans, no intruding layers.

To date, I've put more emphasis on the drawings than the paintings, using a minimal palette of black and red ink, although I introduced gold two years ago. I am attracted to gold's warmth and richness alongside the clear intensity of the black and red.

Although my paintings evolved separately from the drawings, the two have recently begun to merge. In my latest works, a series of small drawings/paintings, there is less of a delineation between the edges of the pen and brush, which now overlap more and more.

Through these evolving aspects of my work, the drawings and paintings have become more detailed, and have developed a slightly more complicated and subtle narrative. Within this framework, I consistently investigate the place where the form and the figure, the material, and the feeling of the moment come together.

You can see more of Lela’s work in person at Trouvé, her shop located at 51 Bolinas Road in Fairfax, California.