USM Art Galleries Gorham and Portland

1989 — The Castle, Abby Shahn



The Castle
Abby Shahn
University of Southern Maine
Russel Hall, Main Entrance

Abby Shahn (1989)

I was trying to get materials to paint the painting and got lost in a bureaucratic morass of rules and purchase orders etc. The paint took forever to arrive. Every time an order for the paint would go out, it would go from desk to desk and eventually would hit the same snag, over and over.

One day I was speaking with a few of the students with whom I was working. I said, a little in jest, "Every artist ought to paint one damnation painting in her life. I'm going to paint the Damnation of the Bureaucrats." Everyone got very excited. Everyone had a story to tell me. I decided I really would paint that.

But then I thought that the person who was most helpful to me in negotiating the morass was the lady in the office. I thought maybe she might be considered a bureaucrat. I didn't want to insult her because she was so nice, so I compromised and named the painting after Kafka's book, "The Castle", which is a book about bureaucrats.