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“3Tributaries” by Shana Goetsch (Featured Artist of the Week)

August 3, 2011

Guildess is pleased to announce an exhibition, 3Tributaries, opening this weekend at the Jazz Gallery. This solo exhibition features MFA Thesis work by Shana Goetsch. (Shana will also host a FREE Guildess workshop on Saturday.. details below)


Shana R. Goetsch’s work frequently involves themes of social justice, empowerment, love, loss and bereavement – she began painting in 1989 after witnessing the murder of her mother. Often using words, cultural references or found objects, she injects personal voice and history into her pieces. In the past four years, Goetsch’s work has appeared in over forty exhibitions, throughout Wisconsin, Virginia, Maryland, Arizona, New York and British Columbia, Canada. She received her BFA in Painting, with a minor in Printmaking from Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and is completing her MA in Community Arts at Maryland Institute College of Art. Goetsch has worked for two domestic violence centers – Sojourner Family Peace Center in Milwaukee, and House Of Ruth Maryland in Baltimore.


Row houses are the subject of her newest pieces, and part of her continued goal to fight domestic violence pictorially. In three suites of images, Goetsch aims to portray the long-reaching effect of domestic violence (DV) in our neighborhoods, and the way in which our broader culture minimizes the effects of violence against women. Even though the row houses are seemingly silent and static buildings, they embody the “souls” of those affected by violence.

I had the opportunity to ask Shana a few questions about 3Tributaries and here’s what she said…

1. You often use the female figure, literally or metaphorically, in your work. Does the female figure play a role in your latest work, 3Tributaries?

I have always been most concerned about the plight of women…so yes, the row houses are a metaphor for bodies and their souls. In my work this year, I thought of the buildings as representing a family unit. I know that domestic violence not only greatly effects women, but it also effects their children (and beyond) and really messes with a family’s dynamic, often for generations. So in this series, each house represents the souls of many, just as a home usually holds more than one person. The process of inking the plates became another metaphor; the colorful collograph plates I made were inevitably covered up by the ink, their brightness/light/life was minimized and in the end they were permanently stained.

2. How has your experience working in a domestic violence center affected your work?

Well, I chose the House Of Ruth Maryland as my AmeriCorps site because I knew that it would hurt my heart if I didn’t work there. It was a place that held the most emotion for me, personally, so I also knew it would probably be painful considering my background. I witnessed/survived the murder of my mother by my brother when I was 14, so when I got to the shelter, I felt that I could relate most to the kids and teens living there. I saw myself in them; in their personal interactions, or their reactions to topics that were emotion-based, such as “love”, “safety” or “control”. There was confusion and anger and frustration and I could sense that in them. I tried to funnel all of these things into the art that we made together, and my own art.

In many ways, 3 Tributaries was conceived as more of a sterile series for me, concentrating on statistics and numbers, and amounts. I felt it was necessary, in working at the shelter all year, to displace myself from my artwork about the subject as much as I could…it was a tiny bit of self-preservation. But in the end, it really didn’t work out that way. The process of hand-printing over 4,000 individual images broke me down a lot, physically and emotionally, because of the sheer numbers involved. I could see (and feel) the number of people affected by domestic violence, and it was so vast…and I knew that it was just the tip of the iceberg. So I would have to say that if this series communicates its intended message, it is because I followed what personally had heart and meaning for me.

3. Where do you see yourself going from here?

I think my art will always contain a bit of personal pain, just because of my background. My interest is in issues that are inherent in our lives. I was also born and raised in Wisconsin (that was up until recently), a wonderfully progressive state in terms of laws and attitudes. Because of this, I feel as if I am always going to fight for the “underdog”, for things we deserve, for our basic rights. I have always wanted things to be fair in this unfair world. I have one more Community Arts masters degree to tackle at the Maryland Institute College of Art, so I will be trying to work with more area communities, to assist in helping to give voice to those that have none, or uplifting a voice that needs to be heard, through the process of artmaking. Communication will always be a part of my make-up as an artist, and a large part of why I, personally, create.

Show details:

Gallery: Jazz Gallery, 926 E. Center St.

Opening: Saturday, August 6 · 6:00pm – 9:00pm


  • The Waday 4 & the Kenny Reichert Quartet will play at the opening
  • Debra Fields, a speaker from Sojourner Family Peace Center will be talking about the center and a piece from the show will be auctioned off for the center
  • Exhibit continues through August 27th / Gallery is open Thursdays 5-8 pm & Saturdays Noon-5 pm

Workshop details:

Shana will also host a FREE Guildess workshop on Saturday, August 6 – 12:30 – 3:30 pm

Guildess (and guests, i won’t turn anyone away) are invited to create collograph plates (a form of intaglio) inside the gallery. We’ll make the plates, wait a bit for them to dry and then head outside the building to continue the workshop.  Printing will take place outside the gallery, that way we can engage the rest of the neighborhood, and they can learn how to print from the plates we all just made.

Participants can take home their plates (and prints) and know that others may also have their image hanging somewhere in their homes. The neighborhood will feel more connected to the area and be able to make their own art. Refreshments provided.

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