Katie Shanks_Artist Portrait_Skin and Bones_Photographer Dani Dodge

The Artist

Katie Shanks is a Los Angeles based painter turned installation artist. She received her BFA in Drawing and Painting from California State University Long Beach in 2010; over the years, however, she has enriched her practice taking scenic byways through millinery, fashion, and fiber art.

She is also a founding member of the art collectives Somewhere in LA and Acceptable Risk Los Angeles.


I concern myself with bodies: their presence, their absence, the space they occupy—how they inhabit and move through that, how we cover and present them to the world, their infinite variety and numerous commonalities, their upkeep and decay, and their role as vehicles for our lived experiences. My work also deals in objects: their making, their accumulation, their consumption, their breakdown, repair, and reuse, our tendency to imbue them with meaning which is often the legacy of those ephemeral lived experiences.

Explorations of these themes take the form of intricate fiber sculptures ranging from delicate palm sized microcosms, wearable pieces, immersive installations encompassing entire rooms to performances incorporating all three with the added dimension of time. Dimensionality itself plays a large role in the conceptualization of each piece. Considering the interstitial space and tension between the three dimensions that we exist in and experience and the two which we primarily use for representation—the whole vs the parts. There is much slippage between the translation of the two, certain nuances that each handles more adroitly, especially as they are pulled apart, copied, and reassembled.

The manipulations are tactile and labor intensive: cutting, knotting, twisting, braiding, weaving, crochet, wrapping, sewing, and embroidery. Through all of this—materiality is key. While some items—thread, string, ribbon, and fabric—are typical of fiber work, others such as tape, plastic, metal, and paper are unexpected. Other processes find their way into the work as well. Drawing and painting are still integral to my practice in combination with printmaking and 3d printing. Each new technique is just another tool for deeper exploration. Disparate elements become so intrinsically intertwined by the time a piece is finished that they are wholly transformed. Differentiation of various parts and their origins becomes difficult leaving the the viewer with little choice but to be present as they experience and contemplate the visceral, physicality of the current whole.


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