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Return to: Shan Wells

Artist Statement


I am drawn by things felt deeply in the heart, but not transferable through any media. This is because nature does not impart it's soul to the virtual, and such things represent a clean line to the pulse of nature: gnat swarms, shifting and pulsing a on a summer evening... the sound of ice cracking under morning sunshine... .the fluid roar of a million aspen leaves bending to a gust of wind.

Situations occur in which I'm acting as a sampler of material, an assayer, compiler, or comparer. Often I wind up touching my ancient heritage as a human animal... foraging for color, collecting emotion.

I strive for the child's perception in which all things become both referential and reverential. I try to strip away the everyday contexts - the cliché's of "beautiful nature", and reveal components that are overlooked- the visual mechanisms of creation. In this regard, science is referenced in my practice. I seek ways to supplement or extend the connections implied by scientific discoveries.

Obviously, science can only be a part of our perception, and so my work also takes on aspects of Animism, Buddhism, Shinto. Natural geometries often occur in my work, implying both structured nature and human invention.

Along these lines, I believe there is a creative force that runs through human culture, thought, and expression. The expression of this force is not limited solely to our species. Elephants draw it, orca sing it, and bower birds sculpt it.

The forms made by animals are therefore a source of inspiration to me as well.

On Eco-Art:

A virtual culture is upon us. Science alters our perception of the world dramatically by creating an remarkable ease of life, a fantasy so compelling it distracts us from the world under our feet, which is as primal and brutal as it ever was.

It is as much a stretch to say that Eco-art can save us from the perils of the machine as it is a cliché to say that technology will create a Matrix-like hell. Most likely, many people will continue find nature as vast, beautiful and fascinating as they ever have.

However, our hand is becoming much heavier. The weight of our numbers drags on the ecosphere like a chain. Slight shifts in political control results in massive destruction, a foolish hand at the wheel causes vast damage.

Fewer and fewer people control more, destroy more. Such careless, concentrated might is the ultimate, intoxicating distraction for both those who wield power, and those who are ruled by them. We are happily captivated by our vanity, largely unaware that our very footsteps depend of the constant spin of the earth.

Eco-art insists upon attention to the real. It demands recognition of a core needs that humanity shares with all life- air, water, food, freedom. This insistence antidotes the delusional concentration of human power by cutting away the gloss of our self-importance. But it's a very weak and limited vaccine. Alone, it cannot cure. Eco-art must be joined with grassroots activism in which it provides a visual & philosophical grounding ideal, inspiring and fueling the drive for change.

© 2010