Shanice Jackson Ellison: 2016 FSP/Jerome Fellow

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When I was younger, I would explore the strip of trees behind my house multiple times a day. It wasn’t a very large area, so I would see the same rocks, the same mushrooms, and the same leftover refuse from previous visitors. However, each trip would feel like a new adventure. Between the walls made by the trees, I felt completely separated from the suburb around me. I took my Fellowship as a chance to play with the landscape at Franconia. One of the greatest assets to the park is the huge amount of light provided by the vast, unobscured sky. As the light changes around the sculpture, the mood between the two steel walls changes. At different times of day and different times of the year, viewers can continuously return to this sculpture to observe the physical and visual changes to the space.

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The Place I Found at Finnegan Creek

6’ 5” x 8’ x 28’ 6”
Wood, fabricated steel, chalk
2016


Describe your creative process:

Since graduating from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design my process has changed greatly. Now I look at the issues that are important to me, such as finding emotional shelter. These act as the inspiration for my work. I then look at my materials and see what speaks to me. This is the best way for me to work because of my limited time and finances.


Tell me about your project at FSP: ellison_2

During the summer of 2015, I was an intern artist at Franconia Sculpture Park. While I was in residence, I noticed that my favorite feature of Franconia was the pure open sky. That is very hard to find. The other thing I noticed was that, while you are walking around the park, it is hard to find spaces that don’t feel completely exposed to the landscape. I always tried to find a corner to tuck myself away in. This inspired my proposed sculpture for my fellowship at Franconia Sculpture Park.


Why did you propose this project for FSP?

I wanted to line up a professional job after I graduated and increase the scale at which I worked.


How does your project relate to your previous work?

My work stems from feelings of loss of personal comfort space or a feeling of not belonging in one’s environment. I wanted to create work centered around finding a private place to recollect oneself. A lot of sculptures at Franconia are grand, monumental statements and I wanted mine to be a quiet embrace.Ellison_4.jpg


What did the experience of working here offer you?

Franconia’s Fellowship Program gave me insight into how I work outside of the intense college microcosm. Also, professional experience is always valuable.


How did your time at Franconia compare to other residencies?

The only other residency that I have completed is being an intern at Franconia Sculpture Park. It felt very different to be able to devote a whole day to working on my sculpture as apposed to the many responsibilities of an FSP intern artist. I was able to relax and slow down a bit.


Where and with whom did you study?

I got my Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. My two biggest connections there were with my instructors, Brad Jirka and Don Mhyre. They were both huge influences on my artwork, and my fearless approach to art making. ellison_6


What did you learn at FSP? / What was your biggest challenge? 

I learned that I enjoy working on something larger than my whole body. It reduces the need to get anxious about details. You are able to breathe. My biggest challenge was envisioning the final product at the very beginning of the proposal. I tend to wok organically, letting the piece evolve as it needs to. So, working in a more strict manner for this residency, was a change.


 

spotlightSubscribe to Franconia’s blog and never miss out on a FSP Spotlight interview. Check out earlier 2016 Spotlight installments: Zoran MojsilovEllie Murphy, Lu Xu, David SmithJess Hirsch, Ian Jones, and David B. Smith! We will be featuring all of our 2016 Fellowship Artists throughout the winter, so stay tuned.

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