Born in 1943 in Casper, Wyoming, William Shepherd spent his childhood exploring the outdoors and drawing. He received his BA and MFA from the University of Wyoming. In 1980 Shepherd moved to New Mexico and began his career painting realistic landscapes before moving into an almost pure abstract style. Eventually he felt drawn back to realism, though he struggled to find the right subject. While traveling to Mexico, the artist began collecting souvenirs and crafts, which he began to paint in realistic still lifes.
His still life work concentrates not only on the everyday object but also the concept of seeing these items from a new, insightful perspective. Using his personal collection of Native American material, Western artifacts, tourist memorabilia, and feed sacks, he creates links between cultures and Western kitsch. His paintings perpetuate a sense of vibrancy and harmony, making significant statements about contemporary views of the West. He is also known for his streambed paintings.
Shepherd’s artwork can be found in major collections throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe, and Japan. His work was also included in the exhibition Out West: The Great American Landscape, which traveled to the National Art Museum of China in Beijing and the Shanghai Museum. By invitation, Shepherd has exhibited at the Prix de West, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum; The West Select, Phoenix Art Museum; Masters of the American West, Autry Museum; the Coors Western Art Exhibit & Sale, Denver; and the Eiteljorg’s Quest for the West. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Hirschhorn Collection in Washington, D.C.; the University of Wyoming Art Museum in Laramie, Wyoming; the Tucson Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Alabama; and the Butler Institute of American Art, Ohio.
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