Studio Visit: Shannon McBride

Shannon McBride is a multimedia artist based out of New York.  Her work can be seen in PLEAT's March 2015 exhibition “bi•fur•cated and shannonmcbride.com.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My artwork is influenced by explorations of materials and processes, my fascination with nature and the human body, and references to my personal life. I am excited by chemical reactions within materials like plaster, wax, rubbers and plastics; their transitional states from solid to liquid, and vice-versa. Creepy-crawly creatures, undersea life, plants, and the natural world in all its curiosities, interests me. Sometimes political or personal issues find their way into my work as well. I take snippets from different parts of life and build something new with them, falling into place somewhere between the natural and the artificial; the playful and the malignant; the real and the imagined. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received in regards to art and artistic practice?
This isn't one singular piece of advice, but quantitative: In Grad school I took a class focused on professional development, where we learned how to document our work, market ourselves, apply for opportunities, write artist statements, and that kind of thing. We got to meet practicing local artists who told their stories and shared their experiences. This class really opened my eyes up to how much of a 'business' side there really is to being an artist. It's something that most of us don't want to deal with, but it's a reality, especially for emerging artists today. This class made me realize that I need to create a balance and manage my time between my studio and my 'office', for the best chance at success. 

On the other hand, what is the worst piece of advice you have received?
I try not to hang onto bad advice if there is nothing to be gained from it. When I get some advice or criticism that I don't agree with, I try to look at it objectively for a while and consider its merit, even if it's not what I want to hear. In the end, I think that bad advice is often well-intentioned, but misinformed. Sometimes people make suggestions or comments that are way off the mark, which can be chocked up to them not really understanding the work itself, or projecting something from their own life or art practice, when it isn't related. In that case, I have to consider that maybe I'm not communicating within the work to the best of my ability. However, I am very open to alternate interpretations of my work, and realize that it is important to be aware of others' reactions to it. I find that I can usually take something of value from any comment or reaction to my work, even if it isn't the way I see it. And then, of course, occasionally there are just those "what the ----?" moments, where all bets are off, and I have to just try and let go, because it is just too confusing, frustrating or even insulting to waste space in my brain over!