Living with Dying: Grief, Loss, Beauty and Joy
Holding Steadfast, Rete-Chrome (Acrylic paint on Teflon-coated fiberglass screen) suspended from aluminum rods, 29 x 18 inches, 2021
Early in her career, Janet Shapero – a Boston-born multi-media artist – sought classical training from Italian artisans in wood-carving, marble-carving, and bronze casting. She lived for many years in Tuscany and the Italian Alps, as well as in Madison, Wisconsin and Logan, Utah, before returning to her East Coast roots. With a BFA in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in Printmaking and Sculpture (and an MA in Italian Literature) from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, she was tenured as Head of the Sculpture Department at Utah State University. Since her return to the East Coast in 2000, she has taught at Maine College of Art, Mass College of Art, and Wellesley College, and for eight consecutive springs, she served as Visiting Professor in the Doctorate Program at the University of Barcelona. During a sabbatical from teaching in the late 1990’s, Janet was awarded three artist residencies with the aim of creating small sculptures out of metal screen to serve as models for large-scale outdoor sculpture. At the first residency, the Blue Mountain Center (Lake Forest, IL), she manipulated and sewed screen together to create sculptural models. At the second, the Hambidge Center (Rabun Gap, GA), she began experimenting with applying paint on screen, in addition to creating sculptural forms. By the third residency, Ragdale Foundation (Lake Forest, IL), she was completely captivated by the seemingly endless possibilities of paint on screen. For the past twenty-two years, Janet has continued this exploration, creating Rete-Chromes and Rete-Forms, her own hybrid form of painting, printmaking, and sculpture.
About Holding Steadfast Janet writes:
This artwork is based on my experience during the Covid 19 pandemic, as the long-term, solo caregiver for my 98-year-old mother. It represents my individual struggle to carry on with equanimity and acceptance in the face of the unknown.
Through the darkness of this period – the unrelenting waves of worry - the variability of my mother’s health and stability – my heightened fear for her wellbeing – the necessary isolation I maintained in order to keep her safe at home - the concern for friends and family members falling ill to the virus - the inundation of dire news on a global level – it has been crucial to nurture my own inner light and sense of gratitude for each day; to maintain strength and balance; and to remain steadfast in the determination to be my best and carry on in the care of my mother as she approaches what may be the final phase of her life.