Los Angeles artists Katie Shanks and Stephanie Sherwood were both trained in traditional drawing and painting at California State University Long Beach, their vibrant joint practice (begun in 2015) has since traveled off the canvas into sculpture, immersive installation, fashion, and now performance. Stephanie heavily focuses on technical drawing and experimentation with many types of paint, as well as contemporary compositional techniques. Katie’s work embraces her experience with theatrical set and costume design to create painterly woven garments and environments. When collaborating, the two find a balance—playing off of each other’s strengths while simultaneously pushing one another to challenge their concepts and capabilities—striving to abandon a place of comfort for one of growth.
I concern myself with bodies: their presence or absence, the space they occupy, inhabit, and move through, how we cover and present them in their infinite variety and commonalities, their upkeep, decay, and role as vehicles for lived experiences. My work also deals in objects: their making, accumulation, consumption, breakdown, repair, and reuse, and our tendency to imbue them with meaning that’s the legacy of lived experiences.
Dimensionality itself plays a large role in my conceptualization. When considering the interstitial space and tension between the three dimensions that we exist in and experience, and the two we primarily use for representation, my work spans palm sized microcosms, wearable pieces, all the way to immersive installations. In addition to these environs, I find performances incorporating all three with the added dimension of time a way in which to connect the ranges of scale in which I work. Simply put, I examine the whole vs its parts. There is much slippage between the translation of the two, certain nuances that each handle more adroitly.
The elevation of abject forms fascinates me—raw meat splayed out on a cutting board or stuffed into a tupperware container; fleshy shapes bound within a rigid cage; haphazard fabric, plastic and paper cast aside in a shopping cart. The stark contrast of chaos within structure strikes a sort of unexpected beauty.
My explorations begin with strong lines and progress with thick paint. Recently, the expression of these fleshy obsessions have manifested into sculptural forms using cardboard, wood and leather. They have even become urban art interventions on discarded furniture in Los Angeles.