Born in Ann Arbor, MI, Shawn Hall has lived and worked in New Orleans since 1997. She earned her MFA at the Mount Royal School of the Maryland Institute College of Art, where she was a Patricia Harris Fellow. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an AS in Science from Delta College in MI. She has been an artist-in-residence at School 33 in Baltimore, the LMCC in NYC, 18th Street Art Center in Santa Monica, CA, the Santa Fe Art Institute, and Isadore Newman High School. Shawn was in residence and toured with her collaborative installation/performance HOW TO BUILD A FOREST, which premiered at the Kitchen in NYC in 2011 and went on to Universities and art spaces around the Eastern and Southern USA with it’s last showing at the CAC in New Orleans in 2015. Her work has been featured at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art and CAC in New Orleans, The Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach, FL, the Alexandria Museum in Alexandria, LA, along with galleries in New York, Dallas, Miami and Nashville. Her work has been reviewed nationally in Art Papers, New Art Examiner, Hyperallergic, dialogue and Pelican Bomb and is included in the permanent collection of the Ogden Museum and Linklaters Corporate collection in NYC, as well as numerous private collections in the USA and Europe. She is represented by Cole Pratt Gallery in New Orleans and Red Arrow Gallery in Nashville. As the late Barry Commoner put it ‘everything is connected to everything else’, and my work and life are no exception. I am an abstract painter who has developed an expanded practice that includes time-based media, installation, and environmental research and outreach. I view my practice as an act of participation in the biological world and work from the premise that everything is an event in nature. The development of my work has led to a delicate, intuitive approach to painting and subject matter. The interplay of intuition and action is absolutely fundamental to making my work, while the basis of my painting, which 25 years ago was steeped in the exploration of art historical and contemporary social themes, is now firmly planted in observation of the natural world. For the past years since Katrina, beginning during my 2 month evacuation, I have been conducting a kind of fieldwork along side my painting: documenting and researching every environment that I find myself in. Much of my video and installation comes out of this work and it has heavily influenced the abstract biological phenomenon that I explore in my paintings. The natural environment, biology and the fact of our interconnectedness to a world that we don’t fully understand is at the core of my current work. I locate myself implicitly within the framework of the organism[s] we are a part of. We are surrounded by amazing phenomenon we take for granted; all around us light, sound waves and particles are fundamental to the way we perceive our world. All around us microorganisms are reproducing and communicating in sophisticated ways that seem outside our realms of common understanding. These phenomena are inherently abstract to us, often by virtue of their invisibility to the naked eye, so the language of abstraction that I employ embodies the subject/concept. Animals, insects, plants, trees, water and our own bodies are all teaming with drama that we are just a small part of, and often only understand a small part of. To a large extent my work is a kind of homage to that fact.
- Nichole DeMent
- Mark Zaleski