Kate Shepherd is a New York-based artist best known for her explorations of line and space, with a preference for a high degree of finish and color saturation. Two drawings by the artist in the Menil Collection, each titled Here and There (object numbers 2021-6 and 2021-7), follow this sensibility and directly relate to a site-specific wall painting she made in response to the uncertainty of the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shepherd took the architecture of the gallery’s entry space as her guide for this wall drawing entitled April, May, June, etc., etc., Upended Floor (mud, blood). The subtle tiling of the floor reminded her of how gridlines are a primary device used in perspectival drawing, and she opted to “extend” the blocks of color onto the walls, thereby creating an illusionistic sense of depth. Seen from the left, the installation masterfully enacted a trompe l’oeil effect where the floor seemed to recede into the distance; seen from the right, the view fell apart into disorder.
These two drawings were made before, during, and after the planning process for the wall painting. In these works, Shepherd explores space, bridging dichotomies like interior and exterior, transparency and opacity. She has said of her work that she enjoys “things that are seemingly simple but multiply in some way.” Certainly true of these drawings, where Shepherd reveals to her audience the various unseen considerations a draftsperson must engage with in order to translate real space into the two-dimensional space of the picture plane.