As part of the EM18 Graduate Project, where recent graduates are offered a residency in our project space for the month, we’re interviewing the artists about their practice and their views on art as a whole. Our first interview is with Shannon McFerrin.
For those who don’t know who you are, can you tell us a little about yourself, and your practice as an artist?
I am an artist and Fine Art graduate from the University of Lincoln. Currently my practice discusses the social issues with monsters and mythology. Generally, I inform my artwork through other subjects such as scientific or literary theory, everything is better shared. The outcome is often a site-specific installation; I prefer to work for a space — building an extra layer of narrative to the setting.
Having come out of university, have you noticed any differences between working as a student artist, and creating your work for a wider, public market?
While at University I aimed to create work that interested a wide range of audiences, however there are definitely some differences. For my degree I would be able to present work explaining my critical choices, but now the public only sees what I present. I have to be more conscious of the importance of visual language— the audience should receive my art the way I intended.
When did you first involve yourself with the art scene? Was this due to your educational experiences, or were you inspired from other parts of your life?
I was first introduced to art in school, but during University I was keen on getting my work to wider destinations and creating connections globally. My source of inspiration often comes from a personal place; however, the outcome is layered with meaning to interest a wide range of people.
During this residency, what are your plans? How are you using this time at Surface?
During EM18 I am researching the concept of monsters in culture, what can be defined as a monster and why? For the exhibition I am hoping to create a creature that can be destructive but also caring, something we all have the potential to be. I am using my time in this residency to further my research and create new work that tests the audiences’ perception on good and evil.
Where else have you exhibited, and other than the EM18 Show on 2nd November, do you have any future exhibitions?
I have exhibited my film ‘Amoeba’ in Punto y Raya Festival, Germany and at the Strano Film Festival, Italy. Currently I am in the early stages of organising a show with a few other female artists that will be shown next year.
As a final question I’ve asked everyone I’ve interviewed, what do you think is the future of the arts? And if you had infinite resources, what kind of work would you make in that future?
I think that if politics continue to be tense we will start to see a split of artists creating highly political work and work of the opposite nature. In harsher times we often see more absurdist work — something to escape the situation. However, other artists will make highly political work to rebel. I think art will reflect the future, so work about technology will become prevalent as well. To make art thrive we need to look at the world, not the art world.
If I had infinite resources I would prefer to set up my own art hub, with studios, galleries and flexible spaces. My practice would improve through the ability to create more opportunities to show work.
Thank you very much Shannon! You can see her work at the opening PENUMBRA, details coming soon to our social media and website!