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Ephemeral Illustrations Depict Quintessential ‘It Girls’

She’s got that 'je ne sais quoi' thing—and a whole lot of attitude.

All images courtesy the artist and Anthony Philip Fine Arts

You catch sight of her from across the room, and your breath catches in your throat. Who is she? That is the question on the mind of viewers at Anthony Philip Fine Art in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where Ruth Shively’s haunting, monochrome illustrations are on display.

Shively brings an earnestness to her portraits, which highlight a ragtag group of female muses, winsome in spirit and stimulating in dynamism. Each girl brings to the show a beauty that transcends categorization by the male gaze, a quality projected through things like a soulful pair of eyes or a dramatic fashion piece. Shively captivates viewers with her flurry of artworks that convey an effortless of-the-moment style. Shively describes to The Creators Project her approach to creating mood through contrast: "I like to leave negative space with both my drawings and paintings, it leaves some sort of tension and leads the viewer to focus on the model and expression."


The drawings are composed of variations of charcoal and graphite, and then softened to convey each strong-willed subject with a wash of vulnerability. The subjects of Shively’s drawings are described by the gallery co-owner as “[possessing] an inner strength and confidence that transcends their superficial beauty."

That is to say they do not fit into a categorization and share the single likeness of open hearts and fearless looks in their eyes.

The Creators Project spoke to Ruth about her series of powerful black-and-white protagonists. She writes in an artist statement, "In my work I am drawn to evocative images that represent the figure as both vulnerable and fleeting, usually a woman against a stark background sometimes with confrontation, sometimes seemingly deep in thought."

"What interests me with the women I choose for subjects," the artists explains, "are an inner strength and confidence they seem to possess, something that has been a struggle for me through my life. I am proud to be a woman and I believe using women in my drawings and paintings has given me an expressive voice which otherwise does not come naturally to me."

Ruth Shively’s exhibit, It Girl, shows from September 9–October 30, 2016 at Anthony Philip Fine Art in Brookyln. Visit Anthony Philip’s website for more show details, here.


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