The Bird and Bone Art of Joyce Sutler-Shaw and Sarah Perry

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The Bird and Bone Art of Joyce Sutler-Shaw and Sarah Perry

823 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
February 14th, 2007 - April 14th, 2007

downtown/east la
(213) 740-4561
Sat 12-4


Los AngelesThe Bird and Bone Art of Joyce Cutler-Shaw and Sarah Perry, an exhibition featuring the work of Southern California artists Joyce Cutler-Shaw and Sarah Perry, to be viewed at USC Fisher Gallery  from February 14 through April 14, 2007.

Both Joyce Cutler-Shaw and Sarah Perry are fascinated by bones, and bones are the subject matter and the medium of their art. For them, bones can reveal to us our origins. Because within our bones lies, encoded, the secret of life. In their art, bones acquire the significance of building blocks of matter. Bones connect to our collective consciousness of creation and are our shared link to the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, maintaining an invisible yet unquestioned presence throughout our lives as our organic support system.

A corollary vital role to bones in Cutler-Shaw and Perry’s art is played by birds. For thousands of years, since the Old Kingdom of Egypt at least, birds have symbolized victory over mortality, the passage of time, and death. The bird images of Cutler-Shaw and Perry perform a similar function: the signs of death, its decomposing flesh are substituted by the whiteness of the skeletal structure. In addition, Cutler-Shaw transformed the pigeon leg and foot into an alphabet of her own invention, linking bird and skeletal symbolism. Each artist is moved by the need to know and uniquely examines the world of physics and metaphysics: being and nothingness, endlessness and fixedness, mortality and immortality. Despite the affinities so far described, these artists are polar opposite in their artistic choice of medium and style, as the exhibition makes clear.

Joyce Cutler-Shaw focuses on drawings of skeletons and the black and white bone-alphabet which explores the dichotomies of life and death. Perry combs the California deserts to harvest the bones of animals, rodents, reptiles, and owl regurgitations of bone pellets, which she translates into skillfully engineered sculptures of earthly/galactic references. Together, Cutler-Shaw and Perry take us on a  journey through the time and space of their unique imaginations, opening worlds both intensely private and weirdly universal at the same time.

About the Artists

Joyce Cutler-Shaw is an artist of intermedia, including drawings, installations, public projects and artist’s books. Some of her public projects can be found at Mission Valley Branch Library, the Balboa Park Activity Center, Stonecrest Village, CA, Sorrento Mesa, CA, among others. She has exhibited internationally since 1972. Her works are represented internationally in the special collections of both museum and library. Joyce Cutler-Shaw has served as artist in residence/Visiting Scholar from 1992 to the present at the School of Medicine of the University of California, San Diego as Artist-In-Residence/Visiting Scholar from 1992-to the present. She was the first visual artist appointed as faculty in the University of California, San Diego’s Medical School.


Sarah Perry burst on the art scene a decade ago with the large-scale grouping of gorillas that she fashioned out of scraps of rubber tires gleaned from the Los Angeles highways. In the ensuing years, Perry's work shifted to smaller, more personal and poetic works, such as the 1995 mixed-media altered book piece "What's Underneath Us?" In the past ten years, she was represented in close to 75 exhibitions in commercial, community, college, and university galleries and museums—nationally and internationally—under such wide ranging titles as “Sacred Realm,” “Bio Ballistic,” “Pontus Hulten Collection,” “Exploring the Cosmos,” and “The Artful Teapot.”