Kathie Shaw was born and raised in rural central Pennsylvania, surrounded by the rolling hills and farmland of that part of the state, where encountering the Amish in their horse drawn buggies was a daily occurrence.
After receiving a BFA with an emphasis on photography from Pennsylvania State University, she traveled to Europe for six months, mostly camping out of the back of a VW station wagon like 1970’s version of the “Grand Tour.” Shortly after this nomadic journey, she moved to Chicago where she received her Master of Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Eventually, after working for a number of years in the Asian Department at the Art Institute of Chicago and at Jan Cicero Gallery, she decided to pursue a Master of Architecture from the University of Illinois Chicago. During this time, she traveled to Japan on a National Science Foundation Summer Institute Fellowship. She also studied abroad in Rome and Basel, Switzerland.
At the same time, she began her ongoing study of Buddhist philosophy, as taught predominantly within the Drikung Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. Her training in architecture has informed both her painting and photography. Most recently, she has focused on the material act of painting itself. The impetus for this move came initially from the idea of creating “accidental” floor plans, a nod to architectural pedagogy. Her current painting process relies on chance followed by choosing or accentuating what chance has initially laid down for her. The results sometimes resemble plans, maps, or topography, and sometimes they become more abstract, moving closer to simply emphasizing the liquid quality of the paint medium itself.