Shelley Mansel’s All That

September 11, 2008

By Mike Landry
Shelley Mansel

Mansel's "Red Tarps," part her new Urban Cathedrals series.

In She’s All That, the 1999 remake of Pygmilion Freddie Prinze Jr. stars as the high school hunk who bets he can turn any girl into Prom Queen. Lucky for him his “nerdy artist” is Rachael Leigh Cook who takes off her glasses, lets down her hair and changes from paint-stained overalls to pretty dresses. It’s this same “challenge” that Halifax-based artist Shelley Mansel embarked in her latest painting series, Urban Cathedrals, of warehouses and buildings under construction.

In the series Mansel has taken typically unappealing images and challenged herself to find the beauty in them. Fortunately for her, and Mr. Prinze Jr., the beauty is naturally there—in the linear and graphic qualities of the images she used as models.

“I’ve been dealing with modernization in my work a lot, but in a seductive way so that it’s a double-edged painting,” says Mansel. “You can read it two ways: either as a seductive view of modernity, or as a parasitic element of modernity.”

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