Caitlin Berry Fine Art Presents Joseph Shetler: Objective Ambitions

By Editorial Team on February 8, 2021
Joseph Shetler, Untitled (heavy left), 2020, acrylic and silverpoint on panel, 60″ x 60″.
Currently on view through March 27, 2021

Instagram Live Talk: March 3 at 12pm EST

Caitlin Berry Fine Art is delighted to present Joseph Shetler: Objective Ambitions, featuring twelve paintings on panel. The exhibition is an Artsy online exclusive with bespoke virtual gallery installation views created by Montgomery + Townsend Architecture and Design, viewable on Artsy through March 27, 2021. An Instagram live talk with the artist will be held on March 3 at 12:00pm EST through @caitlinberryfineart. Additional programming will be announced during the course of the exhibition.

In the past twelve months, Joseph Shetler found centeredness in striving toward objectivity. However, it is the persistent labor, not pure objectivity, to which Shetler is devoted. His linear and monochrome abstractions manifested through the droning disquiet of the past year and its history defining slew of events. Acts of listening and practicing empathy underscored his response as he examined his own privilege and role within societal disparities.

Looking toward Frank Stella’s 1959 black paintings and the muted white and pale hued works of Robert Ryman and Agnes Martin in the 1960s, Shetler defines his own material vocabulary and lexicon of lines using acrylic ground and Silverpoint stylus. While his grids on black and white backgrounds hearken to traditional Mennonite quilt patterns, these grids have become more of a reflection of himself as a whole than of the quilting tradition. Shetler’s studio practice has given him space to gain perspective and so too does he hope to provide this space for viewers in Objective Ambitions.

It is in this spirit that musician Peter Gabriel once wrote about his experience in the Rothko Chapel, a nondenominational chapel founded by John and Dominique de Menil as part of their eponymous museum in Houston, TX. This chapel is both a place of contemplation and a work of modern art, filled, as the song title suggests, with “Fourteen Black Paintings” created by Abstract Expressionist painter, Mark Rothko. Gabriel wrote,

From the pain come the dream
From the dream come the vision
From the vision come the people
From the people come the power
From this power come the change

Like Rothko, Shetler offers viewers a space for objectivity and grace in synthesizing a chaotic, polarized, and changing world. The locations of the works in the virtual gallery provide a measured cadence for viewing each painting, both singular unto itself and in dialogue with those nearby. From room to room Shetler’s black and white paintings speak to one another, their starkness a reflection of the vast and complicated facets of the human condition.

Joseph Shetler (American, b. 1984) is an American post-minimalist artist. He approaches post-minimalism with a Mennonite lens, basing his aesthetic off of anabaptist theology and simple way of life as well as art history. He has exhibited at Step Gallery in Phoenix, AZ, Hillyer Art Space in Washington, DC and Goshen College, IN, among others. His work is included in the collection of Arizona State University and Hesston College and in private collections internationally. He was educated at Hesston College (A.A. 2004), Goshen College (B.A. 2006), and Arizona State University (M.F.A. 2014). He lives in Washington, DC. This is Shetler’s first exhibition with Caitlin Berry Fine Art.