Interview: Shawnalee Anderton
Luca Curci talks with Shawnalee Anderton during VISIONS, third appointment of the ANIMA MUNDI 2022 art fair, at Palazzo Bembo.
I have such vivid memories of my grandmother’s studio space where she painted. The smells of oil paint drying on the canvas… I am so fortunate that my parents encouraged my creative side as I grew up. Eventually, after graduating from high school, I attended Emily Carr University in Canada for four years and specialized in both design & photography. This formal education in the arts combined with the influence of my grandmother led me to see the human form through an artist’s lens. I believe it is reflected in my work as both a portrait and conceptual photographer.
Luca Curci – When you take photos, are you usually inspired by the situation or do you find inspiration in yourself?
Shawnalee Anderton – I believe my life experience informs the inspiration that I receive from the situation. It is a balance however, because when I am photographing a person, it is important to me to connect with them. Listening to their life stories will inevitably inform my style choices I make during a shoot. For me, this brings out the authenticity in a photograph. Even if it is more of a conceptual piece that I have dreamed up vs a portrait. I always strive to integrate a piece of the subject’s ‘soul’.
LC – How important is the editing process in your work? How’s yours?
SA – I do find editing critical to my process. In my conceptual work, I like to play with different elements that I may have captured in other shots, layering them into the image depending on what it is I am creating. In my portrait work, editing is comparatively less but still present. I work from RAW files which need editing in order to create the look I am going for. Also, there are times that elements within the image may need individual attention. Toning is critical in both my conceptual and portrait work.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
SA – I believe being an artist today is not all that different from any other time. Artists still face many of the same issues that have followed them through the centuries. Among the most troubling is how difficult it can be for a full-time artist to receive fair and livable compensation for their work. This issue stems from the fact that there are those who consider the creation of art to not be work at all, that it’s easy and therefore place a low value on it. Another similarity between the artists of today and those of the past is the custom of forming communities. This has only been amplified by modern transportation and the internet. Social media however, while allowing artists to connect with ease, has also caused some of the biggest changes in the history of art. On one hand, social media provides the artist the potential of a massive audience. On the other, the world has been saturated with easily accessible art. This can make it exceedingly difficult for an artist to not only stand out but to thrive. There are also plenty of people who, because of this abundance, now perceive the art world as “dime-a-dozen”. Tying back into the age-old challenges of art being undervalued and the struggle to receive adequate compensation. However, as technology advances and does away with more and more physical labour, it seems that creativity is being coveted much more so than before. This bodes well for artists and creatives alike. Technological advancements have also transformed the art world. From making different mediums more accessible to creating new ones altogether. Despite this, with the development of certain technology, specifically AI, there is an ever-growing impact on artists. How the artist works using AI as a tool but also, and perhaps more importantly, that the AI artist has been born. The effect of this yet remains to be seen.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in society? And contemporary art?
SA – This is a BIG question. I feel that an artist reflects humanity. Making choices of time/place/subject/medium(s) to evoke and connect us with our own humanness. The artist provides an opportunity to have an experience. To perhaps see and feel things outside the viewer’s everyday world and habits. To feel emotions, see differently, and have conversations that connect to something the audience has never experienced before. On the other hand, artists can provide an opportunity to revisit the familiar, maybe something that has been buried or ignored. In contemporary art, the artist mirrors our emotions from stillness to deepest fears. Disgust through to our greatest loves and desires. Artists can help spark revolution and aid in ending war. There is tremendous power in art.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
SA – The most challenging part for me as a digital creator is that there is endless possibility. Because of this, creating boundaries for myself is necessary. Also, technology is always advancing. Staying current is an investment in both time and money.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the exhibition?
SA – From what I have seen ITSLIQUID is inclusive in that artist of many disciplines are being represented from around the globe. This broad range creates a diverse representation of the artworld. The theme: Anima Mundi is an incredibly inspirational theme. The concept isn’t new and yet many don’t know about it. This show was a way to both educate, ask questions and create conversations around a concept that seems to have a place in today’s world more than ever before. From what I have seen, ITSLIQUID is highly inclusive. Artists from many different walks of life and disciplines from around the globe are being represented. This broad range creates a truly diverse representation of the artworld.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the exhibition’s theme?
SA – Anima Mundi speaks of the connection of all things. Both natural and man-made. Because of the multi-disciplines and subject matter represented in this show, the theme is supported. I would add that a more balanced connection, specifically between humans and nature is necessary which is why I submitted the work that I created. The two photo montages were symbolic. Essentially reflecting a balanced connection between humans and nature. I used children’s faces because connection/experiencing nature should be a part of all children’s lives. This connection is happening less and less. Unfortunately, nature is being replaced by ipads. If humans were truly connected/integrated with nature, we would not be destroying our planet. Our health, both mental & physical, are also dependent upon our integration with nature. Breathing the air deep in a forest, hearing the sounds of nature, consuming nature itself. But all in a balanced way. There is also the aspect of the natural medicines that are constantly being discovered to this day. And yet we continue to destroy the homes of the creatures that could save us. The ultimate accomplishment for humans would be to use technology to amplify and build that connection with nature. We are at our infancy in our use of technology due to the fact that we continue to place precedence over technological advances vs preserving/creating a balance with nature.. It is far past our time to achieve balance. But it is not too late. We are surrounded by distractions and programmed daily to consume which keep us from taking those necessary actions. Society knows it need to change. Perhaps it will be up to the people in the final hours. The question is, are we willing to boycott the corporate giants, saying no to the goods and services that generate massive waste, the greenhouse gasses that are causing the planet to warm at an accelerated rate beyond what nature intended? Anima Mundi was an excellent theme for today’s struggles, specifically our environmental challenges. With art, there is the opportunity to create meaningful conversations and inspire one another. On a side note, as artists, we also need to be careful how we create art. What materials we use and where they are sourced from.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
SA – ITSLIQUID seemed very organized. Communication was swift and clear. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the opening for the show my work was in: Visions. However, I did get a sneak peek while it was being hung. Also from what I saw on the video, the artist interviews, as well as the spaces provided for both the art and performance were beautiful. The artwork hung in a thoughtful manner.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
SA – Yes. It seems that ITSLIQUID has created an accessible way for artists to connect with events and exhibitions worldwide. The opportunity goes beyond shows and offers communication for artists via press releases to a large audience of both subscribers, interviews as well as contests that create a platform for the artist to be seen and heard.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
SA – Absolutely. I would like to thank ITSLIQUID for the opportunity to participate in an incredible show with a fascinating concept. Grazie mille!