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Meet the Fellows: Shane Darwent

Tulsa Artist Fellow Shane Darwent

Destiny Jade Green

Meet the Fellows takes you inside the studios of the 2019 Tulsa Artist Fellowship recipients for a look at their life and work. Since 2015, Tulsa Artist Fellowship has recruited artists and arts workers to Tulsa, where they “have the freedom to pursue their craft while contributing to a thriving arts community.” For more information, visit tulsaartistfellowship.org.

The Tulsa Voice: Can you tell us a little about your background and work?

Shane Darwent: I grew up in a suburb of Charleston, SC, called Mount Pleasant. Our family moved there at the beginning of a construction boom and it was a fascinating place to witness the growth of a region in terms of building and sprawl. I studied printmaking and photography at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and have since lived all over the East Coast and now Midwest. Baltimore, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Chattanooga, and Detroit are all cities I have lived in and witnessed similar trends. These experiences continue to provide fodder for my work, which essentially is an exploration of the built American landscape—the aspirations and pitfalls alike.

TTV: You’ve been a big force behind the work that’s been happening at Cameron Studios. Can you tell us a little about your involvement there, and how the culture of community collaboration intersects with your practice?

Darwent: Getting to work out of Cameron Studios has been amazing. We are an outpost of four studios that are separated from the main Fellowship building in a space that is more raw and therefore a bit more flexible to programming. Nathan Young has been organizing experimental music shows at Cameron for a while now, and in recent months we’ve gotten together and turned one of the studios into a gallery/project space and also built out a reading room to house artist books, zines and journals. All of us involved, Nathan, Yatika Fields, Eric Sall and myself are eager to provide a space for the both the Fellowship and the greater Tulsa art scene to test out new and strange ideas.

TTV: Awnings of Tulsa is a local company that has helped produce some of your sculptures. Can you talk about that relationship?

Darwent: I had my first solo exhibition in New York last fall, and the work was anchored by two large scale sculptures based on the forms and fabrication techniques used in storefront awning production. I built previous sculptures like this myself, but remained eager to work with a shop that fabricates awnings regularly. I set up a meeting with Awnings of Tulsa before my New York show … They not only offered technical expertise, but they had all sorts of aesthetic and conceptual considerations as well. We have since worked together on another series of sculptures as well as some speculative proposals. … [It’s] been more like an artist working with a printmaking studio than simply contracting out a service. There seems to be no shortage of amazing fabricators here in Tulsa and I really like that we have access to these industries in a different way than we might in New York or L.A.

TTV: Any future shows or projects on the horizon you’re excited to share?

Darwent: For sure! In June I will actually be showing one of the recent awning sculptures for the Fellowship turnaround festival in the old True Turn building in the Tulsa Arts District. I have a solo exhibition at Boise State University this fall which will coincide with the grand opening of their new Center for Visual Arts. This summer I will be working with Flash Flood Print Studios in Kendall Whittier on a silkscreen edition as a part of their new Artist Print Series. Lastly, I’ll be helping facilitate Back Gallery’s 6th Annual Portrait Show which will be in our Cameron Project Space during First Friday in June.

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