Shannon Weber Mixed Medium
Shannon Weber. Oregon, USA
“I can show what to do with a grownups version of a child’s stash of all things wild and lost.” Shannon Weber
Zoneone Arts is delighted to bring Shannon Weber to you…
Discuss how your work, had to be self-taught?
When I first started making objects while living in a remote area along the Rogue River in Oregon, I had a back ground in floral design with a knowledge of a variety plants in the trades. Working with hot house stem material is much different than working with wild tree barks and hand dug roots, so with that, the trials and errors began on what I could and couldn’t do with certain types of plants. Floral skills came in handy as I made use of the different wraps used in binding materials in my construction methods of making objects, however crude at first. I also found myself watching a fair amount of birds building nests and what materials they seemed to favour, which was very inspiring and allowed me to think on improvising and being even freer with my thoughts on how things should go together. I also started sewing or tying in rusted metals from a forgotten vintage mill site and all kind of fishing line debris caught up in the trees along the riverbanks. The advantage for me was that I had time and no fear of the results or materials and I taught myself skills every day. I found that random weaving anything I could get my hands on was an excellent method to start, I could focus on other techniques such as coiling and very crude twining.
‘Roll Your Own’ 1920 x 1920 inches
Explain how you interpret ‘organic textile art’?
Organic textile art has a large range. It can be organic in shape and form, an item such as a wearable, or pertain to the subject of how the material was used and from where. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be from the earth, a natural fibre, an object or primitive technique. For me most of my work is in fact “organic” hand collected material and objects from nature with a small percentage of it being manmade debris of other kinds, mostly reclaimed construction wires and beach plastics. They could still be seen as organic in the raw materials they once started out as when made. I really have no judgments on organic thoughts since most things will return to earth at one time or another, some sooner than later. While 80% of my materials are plant based I just use what’s around me since most of the areas where I live are wooded or Pacific Ocean locations and there is an abundant supply. Today I live in a small town where I do have other options if I wanted them, but I love the thrill of the hunt somehow buying things to make things is just not me. It is always material collected from nature or odd places forgotten that inspires my drive in design, it is that limited option of only using what I have that pushes the element during the creative process
Discuss the way you collect to create.
Every day is a collection day. I can simply be inspired by how the watering hose coiled outside my front door looks and that can lead to noticing how many other things are coiled that same day, I can even narrow the scope of focus to the complexity of textures and colours of things coiled in my paths and travels. This can go on for weeks and sometimes into the months ahead, it can be both inspiring and maddening at the same time, but that is how it works for me. Something will just start screaming look at me, look at me and then my world will fill with that thought. I will then begin looking for materials to make that coil form. The same thing will happen with different materials, some will just start calling out, “You should pick me up and take me with you”, and before I know it I have 50 of that kind of object to design with. Whenever I think I have all the things I need to work with, then the process of what method of techniques I am going to approach those materials with first takes over. Setting materials on fire, to pounding with stones to transfer marks, ripping or cutting to assemble pieces by stitching or weaving, there are always so many options to explore.
‘Dolly Dock’ 3172 x 4772 inches
3D is your preferred medium explain this in relationship to your current work.
I’ve never dabbled in 2D work as all of the materials I gather lend themselves to the 3D weather it is free standing or on the wall.
‘Carry Your Weight’ 2960 x 4074 inches
Can you explain the techniques of weaving you use in your work?
I mix various repetitive techniques in weaving, stitching and cold connections in multiple layers one over another anywhere from 3 to 9+ deep. In weaving I focus on random, twining, coiling and checker board designs. In stitching I can do some of the same techniques or just keep it to a very simple whip stitch by changing colour to move patterns one way or another. With cold connections it allows for opening the door to interesting surface embellishment by using wrapping techniques with plastics, wire, or rubber to name a few.
‘Circle Crop’ 1146 x 979 inches
Expand on the importance of layering and the minimum and maximum of layers you use?
I like a lot of levels of movement in my work and I can change in the play of the pattern or layers by switching direction, mixing the methods in techniques, or materials to reach my desired effects. There is always a minimum of 3 layers in each work and it’s been known to be as many as 12, however, 6-9 layers seem to be the norm in my designs with a range in size from something that can sit in the palm of your hand to work that can be 62”or more, free standing or hung on a wall. I love to pull viewers in, the more they look, the more that can be discovered in all the patterns or materials that others might not use or never thought of.
‘Whirlpool’ 4336 x 3882 inches
Take two pieces and discuss…
Crop Circle was my inspired view for the exhibit at Fiber National at The Lancaster Museum of Art in Lancaster, PA USA in which it won an award of excellence. It is still one of my all time favourite works. Crop Circle was my take on global occurrences of land hieroglyphs of unknown origin found in various fields around the planet and I still currently visit this line of thought in my work because I find it very interesting and wonderful. Woven in random layers of various reeds and willows with each layer being handed painted with acrylic paint and embellished with vintage vinyl disk beads and wax linen thread.
‘Crop Circle Series #2 1128 x 757 inches
Drift is in a long line of boat and water stories of where I am from on the South Coast of Oregon, it is currently held in the Permanent Collection of the Encaustic Art Institute in Santa Fe, NM USA. It is a woven boat frame, coved in handmade papers, waxed linen thread, and wax filled with stitched beach stones, random kelp and found beach metal, standing on a drift wood block.
‘Drift’ 2290 x 1865 inches
Discuss the class you do using Pacific Ocean Sea Kelps?
I offer one to five day options on either using kelp I collected for the class, or living with me and going out harvesting coastal kelps of your own, along with other finds in coastal materials, then returning to the work space to focus on exploring how to mix the various combinations of techniques to create forms and vessels. We learn the correct methods of how to clean and store kelp along with addressing what should be kept and what should be returned to nature. Sometimes on multiple day options, finding kelp at one location, or at all, is not always guaranteed since we are working with nature. However, I always have a stash of enough kelp on hand to carry on with the many design options for those days if Kelp is carried away with the tide or limited amounts are found on the beaches.
‘Sailing by Star Charts’ 2535 x 3725 inches
A one day class is focused on cutting and laying out a basic design for a wall or free standing form using stitching, coiling and applique techniques while finishing off with different kinds of coastal grass, roots and a variety of embellishment options from tide pool collections and other kinds of smaller variety kelps.
Your work is in many museums and institutions. Can you take one piece and explain how this purchase propelled your art career?
Solo Exhibit at the Mulvane Museum of Art Topeka , KS USA. I was offered this exhibit by Cindi Morrison director at the time of the Mulvane and the former director of the Lancaster Art Museum who took a liking to my work at Fiber National, and when she moved to take the director job at the Mulvane Art Museum she called me up and offered me the exhibit.
Mulvane Art Museum did in fact buy a work for their permanent collection but it was Cindi Morrison who thought of my work and put me in her loop. My thought and experience on this question is that purchases by museums and institutions is really wonderful, but what propels any working artist, no matter what the medium, is the work. If you’re a working studio artist you keep pushing to make the best “original” art you can come up with. You never consider ripping off others designs. It’s very easy to see the masters of their craft and who is a knock off. Well executed original work is always being sought out. You want to share the happiness of your creations and apply to every noted exhibit in your field of.
Comment on your work and the importance it can give to the understanding of local ecology?
While my work is viewed as contemporary in its current frame in time, I have been able to explore and express my designs by using the very basic of primitive skills in stitching and weaving that have been passed from one human to another for thousands of years. The same basic skills that are still current in value to many cultures even today without any known advantages of comforts or convenience.
‘Burnt Offerings Series’ 2659 x 3164 inches
With that in mind I work with what is around me by going out and collecting in nature, helping myself to my neighbourhood compost piles of garden debris, salvaging castoff materials from construction sites and all kinds of coastal debris I have a close connection of the environment in which I live and the stories I am translating with the materials I choose to use.
Discuss your work in relationship to the word ‘eclectic’
I seem to own the world on this one since I work mostly outside in all kinds of weather, that’s how I first started working, just me sitting on a stool under a tree somewhere along the river or out sitting in the grass and blackberry vines up on the bank above the beach with the boats in view and the wind blowing all around. I am known to have my car full of odd and interesting collections of rocks, bones and maybe a pile of fresh chewed beaver sticks I just hauled out of the river, or kelp wrapped around my neck and dragging it behind me like some kind of wild circus act. I have, in fact, had people wait by my car in parking lots asking me about “that stuff you have in your car”, and having luckily gotten out of a speeding ticket because the officer was taken aback by the vessels loaded into the back of the car that were off to be set up for an exhibit. He did leave me with a very welcome warning and asked if he and his wife could come up and visit me on the river sometime!
‘Trapped’ 4716 x 2554 inches
Interview by Deborah Blakeley, July 2015
Think a colleague or friend could benefit from this interview?
Knowledge is one of the biggest assets in any business. So why not forward this on to your friends and colleagues so they too can start taking advantage of the insightful information the artist has given?