Hello everyone! This is Jackson and welcome to the 13th interview for my blog, 3 Art Questions With Jackson. This time I interviewed Shana Kaplow. I noticed one her artworks walking into Rosalux Gallery a long time ago and I have liked her art since then. Shana is a talented artist and professor. I think her answers to my questions are super interesting and I think you will too! Thank you for reading!
Jackson: How did you become interested in art? How old were you?
Shana: I think I was always interested in art, which started with drawing. My mother is an artist so I grew up around her paintings, her art magazines, her studio, and going to art museums, so art and art-making were always present. It was a natural activity - a way to engage myself. I have favorite memories at around age 4, of a new big box of crayons, the one with the built-in pencil sharpener - so exciting! When I was 6 yrs. old, I was given a gift of a new set of colored markers, and I still remember the thrill of seeing all the colors. When I was 9 yrs. old, I remember seeing a Lynda Benglis sculpture and some deeper ideas clicked for me - that a visual object or image had the potential to hold multiple ideas within it. An object could be both solid and fluid, or it could wake me up to see things in a new way, or it could be totally unfamiliar and I could notice my mind working to figure out how to relate to it. These realizations were really expansive for me and I have later looked back upon that experience as very formative. As I got older, I struggled with the idea of making art as a career - perhaps it was because I wanted to individuate and do something different than my mother, but I also saw that it was a hard choice to make professionally and financially. However, when I got to college (planning to major is psychology), I realized that I really felt most alive when I was making art and learning about artists’ works, and decided to major in Studio Art in my second year. After that, I was totally committed to pursuing art as my priority and set out to figuring out how to make that work.
Jackson: How did you hit on your current style with the chairs? It is so unique.
Shana: I had included images of chairs, off and on, in my paintings over the years. Sometimes I would just paint a chair when I didn’t know what to paint. It is a form and structure that interested me because it reflects the human body. But I didn’t originally make the chair an important subject in my work and it was much later that it became a more full-blown image that I keep returning to. Now I am exploring how objects, like furniture, that we live with are meant to support the body, are often manufactured very far away. I think about who is making the things that I use intimately in my life and what their body’s relationship is to the object. What are the conditions of their lives? And what are the conditions of my life, my decisions, etc? I’m interested in what we don’t see, and the chair or the table become edges and structures that I am looking “through”, so to speak, as a way to see what is ‘unseen’. I’m curious about the relationship between what is close and what is far away. I am looking at my role in that relationship. I’m still trying to figure out how to ‘talk’ about that with visual language. It seems like there is something I keep being interested in that involves realism and abstraction simultaneously. I’ll also say that I don’t think much about the word “style”. I just make my work, and it keeps changing, developing, evolving. It’s never the same twice.
Jackson: If you could meet any artist living or dead who would it be?
Shana: Oh, so many! But one that comes to mind would be Louise Bourgeois. She was a very influential artist for me years ago. She was an incredible role model to see out there working as a woman who made powerful and honest sculptures and paintings. She is an important artist for a whole generation or two of younger artists. She was fierce in her opinions and fearless in her art-making. She was kind of a fiery personality and had many bold and original things to say. You can watch a documentary film about her called "Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, The Mistress, and The Tangerine”.