Mari Shields


‘Most types of wood are not suitable for a permanent assignment in public spaces.’

Name: Mari Shields
Born: United States, 1948
Art Zuid edition(s): 2011

Social Media: Facebook

About Mari Shields

Mari Shields is an American sculptor who has lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1972. She studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and sculpture at Tulane University. In the Netherlands she trained as a goldsmith.

Her work is included in public collections in Amsterdam and the province of Utrecht. In addition to her visual work, she is a freelance editor and translator of texts on contemporary art for a number of major museums, schools and galleries.

Trees in the urban environment fascinate Shields. You can tell the seasons from them; they mark places and some carry history with them. Trees can get very old. But giant trees that are sick and therefore sometimes dangerous, or are cut down for other reasons, have been Shields’ working material since 1988. The immediate reason was the felling of ten hornbeams near her studio. She decided to save the trees from destruction and built an installation with them.

The space in which a sculpture or installation is located can be very decisive for the expressiveness of the work. The work enters into a direct relationship with its environment. Shields considers indoor and outdoor space as her material. She makes the viewer aware of the beauty of nature and points out the variety of forms and materials that nature produces.

‘Ode to Tinguely’ was created in 1985, it is an installation made up of found objects: wheels, a chain, and pieces of twisted iron. Encounters (confrontations) between the different elements of nature and meaning are a recurring theme in her work. Whether it’s geometric versus whimsical, processed or unprocessed, decay versus grace.

Shields’ Amsterdam Arboreal from 2011 was shown that same year during ART ZUID. It depicts a turnt-over tree; the branches seem to take root. Or do they give the old tree the chance to take a walk on its new legs?


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