The Power Plant

Shelagh Keeley


Courtesy Shelagh Keeley

Shelagh Keeley is a multidisciplinary artist known for her massive site-specific wall drawings. Her work includes photography, film, artist books and collaborative performances, all of which cohere through the act of drawing. For Keeley, drawing is a way to slow down the act of perception to explore the structural essence of an object and the spirit of a space or institution, more in the tradition of zen than as a task to be accomplished.

The centerpiece of this new exhibition is a commissioned 58-foot-long wall drawing based on Keeley’s research into PEM’s history and its collection, in particular the remarkable holdings of the Phillips Library and the extraordinary history of famed zoologist and archaeologist Edward Sylvester Morse. Keeley has visited PEM several times since 2013 to spend time with the Phillips Library collection. She will return to PEM this fall to create the work in the gallery, drawing on her detailed research while welcoming spontaneity and accident into her creative process.

Shelagh Keeley: Drawn to Place is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum. The exhibition is made possible by the generosity of Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation. Additional support was provided by individuals who support the Exhibition Incubation Fund: Jennifer and Andrew Borggaard, James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes, Kate and Ford O'Neil, and Henry and Callie Brauer. We also recognize the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.