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Guardians Against Ignorance : Paintings by Leslie Shiels

Guardians Against Ignorance : Paintings by Leslie Shiels

On Friday, January 25 the Cincinnati Arts Association’s Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery in the Aronoff Center for the Arts presented two new exhibitions: Guardians Against Ignorance, a new series of paintings by Leslie Shiels inspired by the grotesques that adorn the top of Hughes High School; and On the Way to Morning, a dream-like series of elegant charcoal drawings by Lisa Jameson.

Leslie Shiels, a native Cincinnatian, has established a reputation as a painter of exceptional talent. In her most recent body of work she has transformed the gothic stone guardians that stand watch from the cornice atop Hughes High School in Clifton into colorful and expressive oil portraits. Personifying the subjects of engineering, art, athletics, chemistry, oratory, mechanical arts, philosophy and geography, the grotesques were intended as a symbolic defense against ignorance and have remained a vigilant and inspiring presence in the overall fortress-like structure of the school.

Long considered one of Cincinnati’s architectural treasures, Hughes High School is currently enjoying renewed interest and benefiting from a major fundraising effort to preserve its architectural splendor both inside and out. Shiels’ oil portraits of the guardians seek to focus attention on the power of knowledge, the critical role of education in our society, and Hughes’ role as a temple of learning and embodiment of those virtues.

Leslie Shiels received a bachelor of fine arts in painting in 1974 from the College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati. Since her graduation she has received significant recognition in Cincinnati and the region developing an extensive exhibition history both regionally and nationally. Her work is represented in numerous private and corporate collections.