Briefly describe the work you do.
At the center of my studio practice is an interest in the photographic image. I begin my visual projects by creating or appropriating digital photographs. Then I spend time in front of a computer screen meticulously eliminating, rearranging, or animating the tiny pixels that form these images. In this way, the photograph itself is not an end result but a foundation for further research, discovery, and invention.
For the past several years, I have been engaged in a project through which I examine one facet of American consumer culture. The project involves images I create in environments where crowds gather to experience a series of happy moments, such as amusement parks or carnivals. By digitally removing the background elements from the original photographs, I visually isolate adults, teenagers, and children in transition between these moments. Although they gaze toward a prize to win, a thrill to experience, or a concession stand to visit, these individuals are stripped of their spectacular surroundings and become solitary subjects to contemplate.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I grew up just south of Nashville in the city of Franklin, Tennessee. My mother was a puppeteer, and she instilled in me an appreciation for the arts.
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.”
My studio is my computer and it travels with me wherever I go.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
As a college professor, I take on many roles. In addition to making art, I teach, serve on committees, engage in community service projects, and help oversee an art gallery on our campus. I did not envision taking on such roles when I first became involved in the arts, but these experiences have informed my visual work and enriched my life.
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?
I have a busy teaching schedule and service obligations at my school, so I use evenings, weekends, and school holidays to focus on my art. I do not necessarily enjoy being busy, but I work best under pressure. Otherwise, I tend to overthink things and talk myself out of ideas.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
The photograph is central to my work and I suspect that will never change. In the past five years, I have become more interested in finding new ways to create, manipulate, and share images in the digital age.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
Some of my historical influences include photographers such as Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, and Garry Winogrand. My works often fall into the tradition of social landscape photography but are rendered in a new way through digital manipulation.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I knew from a young age that I wanted to be involved in the arts and I have been very lucky to pursue a career in a field that I enjoy.
Kate Shannon is an associate professor at The Ohio State University Mansfield. The recipient of the 2013 Ohio State University Mansfield Campus Award for Excellence in Scholarship, she explores notions of desire, consumption, happiness, and loss through digitally manipulated photographs. Shannon received her master of fine arts degree in studio art from The Ohio State University and her bachelor of fine arts degree in studio art from the University of Kentucky. She currently resides in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and cats, Shoulders and Herman Schmo.