Today we’d like to introduce you to Shoshannah White.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
My early childhood was spent on Long Island, New York followed by a family move to Florida when I was six. I grew up surrounded by artists and psychotherapists during a critical time in the environmental movement, and so I had early training in terms of looking at the world from multiple perspectives. In college, I studied photography and art history and spent a lot of time in the painting department – all of which has impacted my work. After school, I made my way back north circuitously and found a “summer” job in Maine over 20 years ago. I’ve been here ever since. My home and studio are in Portland.
Please tell us about your art.
While I consider myself a photographer, I actually work in many media and incorporate photography into painting, sculpture and installation work. My work is inspired by the environment and by scientific inquiry but is also concerned with ideas of unseen, unknown or obscured worlds. I’m interested in what’s under the surface and in the connection/disconnection we have with the world around us. This shows up in concept, through the use of specific materials that change with time or perspective like glass, wax or metals, and also in content, by looking at subject matter that might hold hidden information like underground root systems, melting glacier ice or raw, unprocessed coal. I often pair recognizable landscape imagery with abstractions made directly from materials I’ve collected from these specific environments to explore both real and imagined landscapes.
The studio has become a kind of laboratory for me to try and better understand the world. I’m a very a physical learner in the sense that I need to show up and experience a landscape to know how to even start asking questions. So, it’s all very exploratory for me.
A few years ago, I was able to spend time in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago within the Arctic Circle. I became fascinated with the glacier ice not just its extreme beauty within the landscape but also the hidden information held in the transparent/translucent layers of the ice itself. Later, I collected ice from receding glaciers in Alaska and made camera-less photogram prints directly from the melting ice which allowed me to expose the complex patterning within. Before starting this work, I hadn’t realized the history of coal mining in the Arctic and last year I had the opportunity to spend time in Pennsylvania where I was able to gather coal from mines to work within my studio. These explorations developed into my current series, STRATA which contrasts these two separate but related natural resources: glacier ice and coal. One clear, bright and packed with planetary history. The other, dense, black and filled with carbon forged beneath the earth’s surface – both formed by compression over time.
With my current mural project, CHATTERMARK*, I pair the Arctic landscape photographs with the camera less prints of receding glacier ice. The pairings are printed at mural scale and installed in exterior locations. The prints are meant to be temporary and deteriorate with time and weather. Each installation points to an online presence where I feature varying perspectives on the environment: scientists, writers, musicians, psychotherapists, other artists, etc. This project has been a wonderful way to try and better understand how different people are dealing with one of the biggest issues of our time while gently inserting images of nature into the urban environment.
*Chattermark Project has been generously supported by SPACE Gallery through the Kindling Fund, a re-granting program of the Andy Warhol Foundation.
What do you think about conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
In my experience artists are incredibly resourceful and seem to always be able to find a place to do their work. That said, when access to specific equipment or direct funding of projects is made available to artists, it can have a big impact on the kind of work they can produce. Also, preservation of affordable studio space is always so important.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I exhibit my work at Corey Daniels Gallery in Wells, Maine www.coreydanielsgallery.com and at Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto www.bulgergallery.com
- Website: www.shoshannahwhite.com + www.chattermarkproject.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @shoshannahwhite + @chattermarkproject
- Twitter: @shoshannahwhite
Installation photographs and portrait ©Tonee Harbert, All others ©Shoshannah White