Briefly describe the work you do.
Mostly, I make highly detailed and time-altering drawings.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I’ve always had compulsions; nail biting, split-end pulling (hair chewing when I was younger), a great appreciation for a well-popped blackhead, my dog is a collie mix and I cannot help myself but pull the hair clumps off her when she sheds her undercoat. I can sit, but cannot be still. The energy requirement for the creation of these drawings is very similar to endless nail biting or hair clump picking in a growth cycle where the nails never get to short and shedding never ends.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
The amount of time I spend in my studio varies depending on if I am in the active making phase, planning phase or general wandering phase in the creation process. It is a part of my home so I spend some time considering it everyday. I could never be a “studio artist” where my job is to be in the studio and produce. I will always have some sort of job that I am required to fulfill with a time obligation. The ideas for my drawings pop up in everyday encounters at my job, while reading, during my commute, all the in-between times when I am not intentionally considering art-making.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
Collector, I have never wanted to accumulate much stuff. I would love it if all my possessions fit in an old-fashioned leather suitcase. In the pursuit of art-making, however, I have found many objects’ potential where I otherwise would have overlooked it or easily passed it by. Most recently I saved a large metal machine lever with a heavy plastic ball handle from going in the trash because it seems perfect for some sort of tool or to serve as the scroll holder for a book.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
After work or before work or all weekend or on the fly on vacation. I can only set specific time when I know exactly what I am doing. Usually it’s in between everything else.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
Since I graduated from the University of Delaware in 2011 my work has become more manageable in scale and scope. As a student I worked in sculpture, ceramics and printmaking. These media require space and tools or lots of time to spend at a shared studio facility. I am still interested in the same narratives, landscapes and visual languages. My native visual language is flat, I can envision my idea and bring it to fruition with ink on paper. The thing I miss most about clay is its skin and I may need to address that soon.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
Reading is a huge part of my daily life and every writer is a philosopher; some writers, philosophers and artists who have specifically influenced me and some of my works include; Annie Dillard, Mark Twain, George Saunders, Arthur Schopenhauer, Alan Watts, Luigi Serafini, various cartographers, Oliver Sachs, Richard Feynman, Marina Abramovic (because of her commitment to rituals, attention to the sublime and our human interconnection), Sophie Calle (because of her attention to and weaving of the everyday through awareness), Voltaire, fashion designers and makers: Alabama Chanin, Illustrator Yuko Shimizu and too many more to count.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I’ve only ever been internally pulled into one thing and that is drawing, it’s what I cannot give up. Actually that’s not true, I really wanted to be a train engineer and watch the tracks on end but I get sleepy when I drive. I would love to sit in the train cab and draw or just do all of my art making on trains. I know if I tried to quit drawing, I would come up with all the best ideas I ever had and go right back to it (so maybe I should try to quit 😉 ). I love reading, writing and history and my love for blackhead extraction has made me toy with the idea of being a dermatologist but my interests in all of these things lead me to want to make drawings. Like Sophie Calle in that Venetian Hotel, if I changed my job it would always be for the art and if I were a train engineer I would get too distracted and frustrated because I would want to draw what I saw and experienced all the time.
Born in New Jersey, Shannon has lived in Massachusetts, Delaware and Athens, Georgia but now calls Philadelphia home. She is captivated by imaginary places like the bottom of a small spring-fed lake in upstate New York; ancient ruins of all kinds and the infinite intricate coincidence of everything. She has worked as a textile designer, graphic designer, bartender, barista, customer service representative, book repairer, theater prop constructor, house guardian, dog watcher, babysitter, plant water bearer, Senior Citizen visitor, kids clay camp instructor and sandwich maker. She has exhibited in Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Delaware, Savannah and Athens, Georgia and St. Louis, Missouri. She has a BFA in studio art from the University of Delaware and a weakness for a good pair of shoes.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.