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Work of Renowned Multimedia Artist Joyce Cutler-Shaw Featured in “Library Duet” Exhibitions

Joyce Cutler Shaw receiving Giesel Citation for Library Philanthropy

Joyce Cutler-Shaw receiving the Geisel Citation for Library Philanthropy presented by University Librarian Emeritus, Brian Schottlaender.

The UC San Diego Library and the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla are teaming up to celebrate the work of internationally acclaimed multimedia artist Joyce Cutler-Shaw. The joint exhibition, “Library Duet,” highlights the many stages of a distinguished and prolific artist’s career. The Athenaeum exhibit, opening September 23, will display a retrospective of Cutler-Shaw’s artist’s books from its permanent collection, while the UC San Diego Library will exhibit Cutler-Shaw’s archival materials, including its permanent display—Alphabet of Bones—and Cutler-Shaw’s current work, Brain Project. An opening reception will be held in Geisel Library on Thursday, October 5, 2017 from 5 – 7 pm in the Seuss Room.

“Library Duet” comes 14 years after “Library Quartet,” an exhibition of Cutler-Shaw’s works that was concurrently held in four libraries throughout the city, including: the UC San Diego Library, the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, and two San Diego Public Library branches—the Earl & Birdie Taylor Branch and the Mission Valley Branch. Such a collaboration was the first of its kind in the region.

An artist who works across media, Cutler-Shaw’s work include drawings, artist’s books, installations, and public commissions. Brain Project is a current work that follows Cutler-Shaw’s recent diagnosis of corticobasal syndrome and degeneration with brain scans in various forms, tunnel books with videos, and handwriting and drawing samples. Works from this collection will be one of many items on display on the main floor in Geisel Library (2nd floor, West Wing) from October 5 through October 27, 2017.

Alphabet of Bones

Original drawings for The Alphabet of Bones, 1987.

UC San Diego has long been a repository for Cutler-Shaw’s work. Her personal and professional archives are located in the UC San Diego Library’s Special Collections & Archives, enabling scholars and researchers to study her original writings and drawings, correspondence, project proposals, photographs and slides, as well as audio and video recordings. A recent generous gift from Cutler-Shaw established the Joyce Cutler-Shaw Archives Program Fund; the funds will be used to support activities that increase access to and awareness of the creative endeavors and themes that permeate her art. Of note is a project to digitize the audio and visual materials in Cutler-Shaw’s archives, specifically the much-admired Art & Artists Lecture Series she created from 1974 to 1982, and materials from the Landmark Art Collaborative, an organization she co-founded in 1979, which integrates art, the environment, and architecture.

A UC San Diego alumna who was a member of the university’s first MFA class in 1972, Cutler-Shaw was the first American artist to be appointed as an artist-in-residence at a university medical school when she was offered the post at UC San Diego’s School of Medicine in 1995. In 2010, she was recognized as one of the university’s “50 at 50,” when 50 distinguished alumni were honored for their contributions to their communities, the nation, and the world, for UC San Diego’s 50th anniversary. Earlier this year, Joyce was awarded the Geisel Citation for Library Philanthropy for her major contributions to the Library and the campus.

While the UC San Diego Library’s Special Collections & Archives is the single largest repository of Cutler-Shaw’s work, her expansive and diverse body of work is also represented in both museum and library collections throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Albertina Museum (Austria), the Klingspore Museum (Germany), the Tyler Museum (The Netherlands), the Getty Museum (Los Angeles), and the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, D.C.).


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