Sandra Shaw has been addressing audiences on the subject of sculpture since 1993. She combines her background in philosophy with her professional experience as a practicing sculptress. Ms. Shaw received her Masters in Philosophy from the University of Toronto in 1992. Her engagements range from one-week intensives on the history of sculpture, to informal question and answer seminars on topics related to the fine arts.

Attendee Reviews

On-line courses now available with free sample downloads:

BODY & SOUL: Romantic Love in Sculpture

ART HISTORY I: Prehistory to the Fall of Rome

Body & Soul: Romatic Love in Sculpture
(Copyright © 2008-2002. All rights reserved. 4 hrs)

This is a new and much extended version of a course Ms. Shaw delivered in 1998. This talk explores dramatically different romantic and sexual values that have shaped Man's form in sculpture across the ages. Students witness Man's changing view of Himself as a sexual being, from the towering Heroes and sensuous Aphrodites of ancient Greece to the bizarre androgynes of modern times. The extensive slide presentation enables students to concretize fundamental philosophical ideas and offers inspiring visions from the best of sculpture. Topics include the nature and origin of romantic expression in sculpture, the mind/body split and the impact of subjectivism on sexual identity.

This talk is also presented in a 2-hour version:
Sex in Sculpture:
The Classical Greek versus the Modern View of the Sexes
(Copyright © 2008-2003. All rights reserved. 2 hrs)

The Philosophical Significance of Ancient Greek Sculpture
(Copyright © 2008-1994. All rights reserved.4.5 hrs)

This lecture examines the origin and significance of the sculpture of Ancient Greece from an understanding of the role of fundamental philosophical ideas in human history. Miss Shaw identifies specific visual characteristics in sculpture that reveal the underlying philosophical ideas that gave rise to the work, thereby helping the student to evaluate sculpture in terms of its conceptual meaning. The slide presentation enables the student to concretize the changing values of the ancient Greeks throughout the spectacular rise and fall of Greek civilization. This examination of ancient sculpture partakes in Man's discovery of Himself and His potential, and dramatically demonstrates the crucial need for Man to hold a heroic concept of Himself within the context of a rational philosophy.

This talk is also presented as two lectures:
I Classical Greek Sculpture
(Copyright © 2008-1993. All rights reserved. 2.25 hrs)
II Hellenistic Sculpture
(Copyright © 2008-1995. All rights reserved. 2.25 hrs)

The Road to Michelangelo:
Western Sculpture from the Fall of Greece to
the Rise of the David
(Copyright © 2008-1997. All rights reserved. 6 hrs)

Witness the spectacular history of Western Sculpture from the tragic fall of Ancient Greece to the heroic rise of Renaissance Man. In this six-hour presentation, Miss Shaw traces the fate of sculpture through the depravity of the Roman Empire, the destruction of the Western world, across agonizing centuries of darkness on through the Middle Ages to catch the first sparks of thought that ignite the Renaissance. Then, experience the culmination of Man's long struggle to win back His mind, in the life and work of a giant of the Renaissance: the great Michelangelo. Throughout this adventure story, Miss Shaw shows with a slide presentation how the philosophical ideas that drive these dramatic historical changes, are translated into sculptural form.

The Rise of the Individual:
Sculpture from the Renaissance to the 19th-century
(Copyright © 2008-1999. All rights reserved. 6 hrs)

Continuing with her lecture series on philosophical meaning in sculpture, Miss Shaw takes her audience on an historical journey from the conflicted art of the Renaissance to the rise of the individual in nineteenth-century sculpture. This adventure unfolds through a slide presentation. It is a journey about how Man's view of Himself, and His world, shapes sculptural form. Witness how the soul/body split culminates in the fantastical world of the Rococo. Then watch as sculpture is transformed by the Age of Reason from a tool that aggrandizes popes and kings, to an art that glorifies the individual as a moral end in himself. It is a story of the triumph of the individual over church and state, seen through the reducing lens of sculpture: from the tombs of Rome, to the dazzling gardens of Versailles and climaxing with the soaring figure of the Statue of Liberty.

The Heroic:
The Nature & Rational Foundation of
the Heroic in Sculpture

(Copyright © 2008-2001. All rights reserved.4 hrs)

This course examines the nature of the heroic ideal as it is embodied in sculpture. What makes a sculpture heroic? How do you distinguish truly heroic sculpture from work that only simulates grandeur, such as propaganda "art"? This course answers these questions with examples of sculpture from across the ages. The extensive slide presentation shows key sculptural elements that project an objective ideal of human greatness. Dramatically contrasting examples, such as the Greek Classical heroes versus Nazi "superman" statues, offer students the opportunity to concretize more thoroughly Man's crucial need for a consistently rational heroic ideal -- in art, and in life.

Guest Lecture at CAL STATE UNIVERSITY, Long Beach

Advanced Figure Drawing, Instructor: Domenic Cretara
Topic: Drawing as Foundation to the Arts of Design: Sculpture

Drawing serves as the foundation for sculpture. Students explored how observation from nature is the basis for fine art, and that drawing is the core discipline that connects the artist with the most fundamental facts of his or her subject.

Houdon at the Getty
An informal gathering of Houdon admirers met at the Getty Center in Los Angeles January 17, 2004 to hear Sandra Shaw's thoughts on the exhibit and works. Topics included the achievement of the Houdon exhibit and why it is an act of justice, Houdon's relationship with Thomas Jefferson and how the Enlightenment view of Man is embodied in Houdon's works.

For information on a speaking engagement by Sandra Shaw for your institution, contact us at

(The above address is an image, not a link, to stop SPAM robots from finding this address.)

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Attendee Reviews

"Your Body & Soul course was absolutely incredible, the highlight of the conference!"

"This course should be required for all humanities students (at the very least). This was by far the best class that I have attended at this conference. It was the most integrated course."

"Ideal, both in delivery and content."

"Excellent! So thorough that the works themselves serve as notes."

"Shaw continues to inform so very well, and to inspire."

"One of the best courses I have attended at any conference. Excellent in all aspects. This course must be made available for purchase."

"The only lecture in which I never yawn! Great class!"

"Only four days! I wish it were more!"

"She is so integrated with her subject and so clear on the underlying philosophy, that by the end of the lecture, it doesn't seem possible that there ever was another interpretation. That was a great experience."

"Art through the eyes of Miss Shaw has given me a whole new meaning to the phrase 'art appreciation.' She is a gem and her evaluative analysis is intoxicating."

"I felt as if Central Casting had chosen the instructor. To have a beautiful, intelligent woman lecture on the beautiful products of intelligence was wonderful."

"An impressive and deeply enjoyable presentation."

"Thank you Sandra for your inspiring, well-organized, detailed, well-thought-out workshop. Thoroughly enjoyable!!"

"An inspiration, Miss Shaw -- you are yourself a work of Art!! Thank you."

"Preparation, organization and presentation excellent. Most enjoyable and informative."

"Sandra's courses have increased my love and understanding of sculpture that I can't thank her enough. Please, please have her lecture at every conference. Her passion toward sculpture is inspiring!"

"Sandra not only knows her subject, but she also CARES very deeply about sculpture and those who create it. It shows."

"I can't think of one suggestion that would improve this course. Not only are you a fabulous lecturer, but your analysis of the sculptures is both clear and illuminating."

"Superbly organized (i.e. very well structured). Passionate / powerful presentation."

"Truly an outstanding course. An expressive, commanding, insightful presentation. My appreciation and love of sculpture is forever deepened. Thank you!"

"This was a gem of a course! I appreciate Sandra's efforts immensely!"

"Delightful, insightful descriptions of statues -- very relaxing lectures."

"This course could not have been better. Please do more!"

"Another winner for Shaw."

"Excellent class. Please do more."

"I thoroughly enjoyed this class -- very emotionally moving at times."

"Excellent organization and very motivating."

"Oh, just so excellent ... wonderful..."

"Excellent as usual! When can we buy the book/video?"

"I thoroughly enjoyed the lectures. It's a topic I did not know much about and have now gained a better understanding."

"One of the BEST lectures I've attended in years! Ms. Shaw is truly inspirational."

"A fantastic presentation -- Sandra Shaw's knowledge of sculpture far surpasses that of any other lecturer I've ever seen. Please bring us more of her lectures!"

"I loved the class. This was the first class I had ever taken on sculpture."

"Excellent content, clearly presented with admirable passion."

"Best course I've ever taken. A real delight! I look forward to taking future courses with her."

"Tremendous integration of philosophy, history and esthetics, concretizing all into a clear demonstration of the power of ideas. Great sequel to her Greek series."

"Fascinating tale, beautifully told."

"Sandra is amazing. Her passion for art -- specifically sculpture is contagious."

"Best lecture of the entire conference! Bring her back again!"

"Taught me how to see 'sense of life' in sculpture. Great."

"I can't wait for the book!"

"Excellent integration of art and philosophy. Sandra's passion for her subject -- and her work -- is moving -- and inspiring!"

"A truly human integration of reason and emotion!!"

"There is no significant way in which this course could be improved."

"Knowledge: encyclopedic. Integrations: precise and contextual. Language: lyrical. Voice: musical. Gestures: artful. PERFECT."

"I didn't fully understand philosophy until I took your course."

"Excellent for all aspects! Well-integrated from both artistic and philosophical points - pacing and lecturing style (organization, clarity) all contributed to understanding."

"I was amazed and astonished by the wide sweep of integration that Ms. Shaw brought to this subject."

If you have attended one of Sandra Shaw's talks, and you'd like your comments posted here, send them to:

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