Artist Spotlight: Kirsten Shannon
Kirsten Shannon is on a roll. After two successful shows at Commerce Street’s famous Diver Studio (2015’s Marks are More Important than Words & 2017’s Rose-Colored Glasses), Shannon made a big splash at last year’s Mark Arts National Abstract Juried Show. Her selected mixed-media painting, a large show-stopping diptych, The 3rd and 4th Arrondissement (Le Marais), wowed visitors and can now be seen prominently featured in Cargill’s new building from Douglas Ave. Once again Shannon is taking center stage in Mark Arts main gallery, this time with an extraordinary body of brand-new work in the center’s very first solo exhibition, En Route, open January 25th – March 17th.
Tell us a little about your background.
I was born and raised outside Portland, Oregon and moved to California in 2000 to attend Pepperdine University. After graduating in 2004 with a degree in Spanish and Fine Art with an emphasis in painting, my husband and I moved to Wichita, Kansas in 2008. I had solo shows in both 2015 and 2017 at the Diver Studio in Wichita and have been a part of various group shows. My upcoming solo show En Route opens in the main gallery at Mark Arts in Wichita on January 25th. It is the first solo show Mark Arts has had and will hang through March 17th.
Have you always known you were an artist?
I feel like the elements of art have invariably been what calibrate my existence. The way I view the world is in Technicolor and the color I see is what urges me to create. That started when I was a little girl: my mom would drive me an hour to the big city to take painting or drawing classes on Saturdays, I would win this and that art contest. I feel thankful to be able to pursue what has always been inside of me, each day.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Of course, there are the consummate masters that will forever inspire: Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Clyford Still, Grace Hartigan, Gillian Ayres, and for sure William DeKooning. Right now, I am digging Cecily Brown, Hyunmee Lee, and Mary Weatherford and the late local legend, Shirley Glickman.
What mediums do you usually work with?
When I am working in my studio, time stops. Hours pass as color, form and texture build and take shape. I am drawn to the high density and chroma of oils, especially oil paint mixed with a cold wax medium (its texture is like frosting!), but I also throw acrylic paint, gel medium, graphite, oil pastels, and oil sticks into the mix. There are no rules!
What can people expect to see at “En Route”?
Those that come and experience my body of work, En Route, will travel with me on a journey. It has been my journey of discovery in the last few years, but it is now theirs. Canvas laden with chroma reminds of that city or that feeling. The rhythm of the surface begs to be heard. I am hoping the viewer will partake deliberately, observe, listen and slow down. It is sure to be a rewarding journey.
What do you hope to communicate through your art? Why do you do what you do?
As an artist, you never arrive. You never should arrive. En Route is that process. Journeying into days of digging deeper, of pressing forward, of trying new things, of discovering. Of knowing that the act of holding the brush and squeezing the paint puts you in direct contact with inspiration through the process itself. It means falling hard for the physicality of the process. It speaks to aligning yourself with the creator of inspiration and growing in what you’re created to do. Making headway but knowing the territory is unchartered and always will be. It asks only how you will arrive not when. After all, where will you arrive? Aren’t we all on that journey in some way?
See En Route by Kirsten Shannon through March 17th at Mark Arts, Mon-Sat 10-5pm, follow her on Instagram at @kirstenshannonart, and find more work on her website at https://kirstenshannon.com
Photos by Daniel Drouhard, Colab Digital