As artist and mentor, Shirley Woodson, 85, isn’t done

Even at 85 with an art profession that has spanned 6 many years and a hand in mentoring some of Detroit’s most significant names in art, longtime figurative painter Shirley Woodson is nonetheless mastering as an artist. 

“I master from it each individual working day,” Woodson explained.

Without a doubt, age is just a number to Woodson, who expended decades as an artwork teacher and administrator in Detroit and Highland Park, mentoring other young artists although continuing to perform at her individual craft. And she isn’t really slowing down.

She was named the Kresge Eminent Artist previously this year, a coveted cultural prize in Detroit, and just unveiled a new present of her do the job at the Detroit Artists Marketplace, “Why Do I Delight,” that includes some pieces by artists she’s taught. And a different present of Woodson’s paintings is in the is effective at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Shirley Woodson, Michiganian

Artist Shirley Woodson was named the Kresge Eminent Artist previously this year, a coveted cultural prize in Detroit, and just unveiled a new clearly show of her get the job done at the Detroit Artists Sector.

Todd McInturf, The Detroit News

“Shirley Woodson has taught and mentored, cultivating and growing artistic possibilities for successive generations,” said Rip Rapson, the president and CEO of the Kresge Basis. “She has organized artists and curated their exhibitions. And she is an artist who leads by engaged case in point.”

Woodson, who was born in Tennessee but moved to Detroit as a baby with her parents and still life below, realized at 14 that she wished to be an artist. Her moms and dads uncovered her to a range of artistic pursuits — piano, for illustration — but it was the wonderful arts to which she was drawn.

Right after graduating from Wayne State College, she found her way into teaching. She invested more than 40 many years as the two a teacher and administrator in the Detroit Public Educational facilities Local community District, Highland Park Faculties and at the college or university level. She also co-started the Michigan chapter of the Countrywide Convention of Artists, just one of the nation’s oldest arts businesses concentrated on nurturing, acquiring and marketing alternatives for Black visible artists.

Artist Shirley Woodson poses during an interview, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, at her art studio in Detroit.
Artist Shirley Woodson poses throughout an job interview, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, at her art studio in Detroit.
Todd McInturf, The Detroit Information

Sonya Clark, a nationally recognized fiber artist who is now an art professor at Amherst Higher education, is a single of the artists Woodson nudged along the way.

The two obtained to know every other while Clark was a graduate pupil at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Woodson connected Clark to other artists, provided her in team reveals and invited her to give artist talks, even when she was “environmentally friendly.”

“I simply are not able to envision how I would have navigated my graduate faculty yrs with out all the fantastic persons she introduced me to,” Clark explained. “So a lot of of my lifelong friendships with artists and artwork individuals begun with my connection to Shirley Woodson.”    

For Woodson, she stated she didn’t set out to be a mentor, but “I like to see what other artists do.” She collects artwork to this day.

The artwork of Detroiter Shirley Woodson.
The artwork of Detroiter Shirley Woodson.
Todd McInturf, The Detroit News

Artwork, she mentioned, is the crucial to so numerous other spots, this kind of as heritage, journey and producing.

“What I enjoy about instructing is to see young children find out how to embrace an concept and to be capable to express it,” mentioned Woodson. “That seems simple but it actually isn’t really.” 

Her possess paintings, meanwhile, are known for their bold hues and expressive nature.

“The coloration is an invitation to seem further more, to see further, to recognize distinct relationships,” claimed Woodson, who works by using oils and acrylic paints on canvas and shares a studio with her son, Senghor Reid, also an artist. 

Imagining her occupation as it is right now, in lots of strategies, was about being open up to the strategy, Woodson claimed. But she acknowledges she couldn’t have done it without her dad and mom and partner, Edsel B. Reid, who died in 2000.

 “I knew a little something was out there,” she stated. “And it would manifest itself in quite a few means.”

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Shirley Woodson

Age: 85

Profession: Artist, educator, mentor

Instruction: A bachelor of high-quality arts degree and master of good art from Wayne Point out College she also attended graduate university at the University of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Spouse and children: Sons Khari and Senghor Reid and a grandson, Dayton Reid.

Why honored: For tirelessly advocating and mentoring other artists, which include the late Gilda Snowden, Sonya Clark and many others.

Correction: This story has been up to date to correct the title of Shirley Woodson’s late partner, Edsel B. Reid.



Kenneth Proto

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