Stephen Shanabrook is an American artist and an alumnus of the Ateliers has lived in The Netherlands and Russia for years but is now based in New York City. His work is a sculptural actualization of a life experience with the body and its shadow ever present within a precarious world. The work reflects a chaotic path in materials and processes which throws back to his movements through contrasting cultures. The foremost idea of material for Stephen Shanabrook has always been the found object. Made out of chocolate, cotton candy, drug hubris, or found plastic, his sculptures are about the process of manipulating a given material and treating it as a temporary guest in the artist’s hands. With adding the further story to a found object comes a realization that the body and its’ growing self is also a found object given to us for a brief moment, to write our chronicle upon.
The new series “Trash Flowers” are works made exclusively from various plastics harvested from dumpsters in Russia and America. Shanabrook a longtime garbage surfer brings us the traditional floral motif, constructed completely out of used plastic. The very detritus of civilized society that is harassing mother nature to its core, is herein the building blocks from which these simple yet eloquent flower spring forth.
Artificial flower parts are the most common element along with household plastic containers and PVC board for the backgrounds. The background pieces came from a printing shop's dumpster as cut-offs, which the artist lets dictate the size and the shape of the works in this series. In this way he allows the original found object to transcend its new story.
The other material used is the plastic details from silk flowers after all the silk was stripped away. The actual flowers we see, are for the most part imaginary constructs of the artist, making the plant from an array of plastic bits and flower parts from different types of plants. Once the elements are in place Shanabrook uses his recipe for warming different kinds of plastic, which he has developed over the last twenty years. After the melting and pressing process, the artist continues to add subtract and repress continuously, as a painter would do with paint on canvas.
Beaten to a Pulp on the Bed of Moss | Performance with cotton candy
ON THE ROAD TO HEAVEN THE HIGHWAY TO HELL / remnants of the suicide bomber / chocolate / 75 x 30 x 88 cm / 2008
Permanent Collection David Walsh, MONA, Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania