I frequently use modular units and grids in my work, largely for their associations with economic utility, but also because of the undeniable allure of repetition and my longtime fascination with connective systems. In my recent work, I put forth fictitious “products” that might appear to have been government-issued or sold by Home Depot, and subsequently allowed to fall into a state of ruin. With these objects I mourn the loss of regional cultural forms, while also hoping that my industrial parodies will project their own poignant elegance and subtle humor.
In a piece from 2014 entitled Folly (Colosseum of Rome), I used 52 galvanized steel pipe arches connected with fence hardware to suggest the iconic Roman structure while blurring the generic forms of bike rack, cattle pen and crowd barrier. In my Historic Preservationist (Heavy Equipment Tires) series, I re-interpreted four decorative traditions from around the globe into the visual language of huge earth-moving equipment tires that may soon facilitate their extinction. This series responds to the vast destruction of villages in contemporary China, and to the loss of the centuries-old traditions that relied on the societal structure of the village.
I make sculpture and installation art, and I have occasionally collaborated with other artists to create pieces involving animation. I am fascinated with style in art: the sets of characteristics that lead us to make immediate associations with objects and environments external to the piece of art we are observing. Because I am so enamored of style, I resist adopting or developing a single style, or “look,” for my work. I prefer to constantly re-present the visual languages around me in order to tell different stories. In the past several years I have chiefly appropriated visual tropes from the worlds of industry and consumer goods, sometimes morphing them with historical forms to call attention to a contemporary condition or issue. What this means for my artistic practice is that I must tackle an entirely new material and fabrication process for each new piece. I usually spend between a year and four years troubleshooting any single project, at the same time as working on two or three other projects.
Shannon Wright was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and raised in Sydney, Australia. She earned her BFA in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University and her MFA in Time Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She taught and ran the Woodshop at Columbia College Chicago prior to coming to San Jose, where she is coordinator of the SJSU Spatial Art program. Shannon Wright is represented by Mulherin + Pollard Projects in NYC and ADA Gallery in Richmond, Virginia.