The opening date is approaching for Buffalo Rose an exhibition by Shannon Butler at the Craft Council of BC Gallery August 20th, – October 1st, 2015. A deep respect for all things nostalgic, weathered, rusted, vintage, and her rural northern upbringing, informs Butler’s clay sculptural and function work. This work explores the contradiction and juxtaposition inherent in the creation of a more authentic type of beauty. In the lead up to to this exhibition we asked Butler some questions to find out more about her art practice and inspirations.
Tell us about your journey as an artist?
I grew up on a cattle farm and with farming there is a constant amount of problem solving. My dad was always building barns and saving calves lives and seeding the crop. I remember my parents talking about the problems every night at the dinner table and how to solve them. I find this to be the same with art. As soon as the piece is begun the problem solving begins, and doesn’t end, until the piece is finished. I hold each object in my mind until its completed and then I mentally let it go. Sometimes when there’s tons of projects on the go in my studio (which is every week) I feel overwhelmed with all there is to do. I feel compulsively creative though and know that I’ll never stop. I haven’t yet experienced an ‘artist block’, the problem is getting all the ideas out of my head and into the world.
Going to art school helped so much to opening my mind way up to going beyond the simply pretty, and I learned to question everything and to make work that you can defend. The ceramics program at the Alberta College of Art and Design was incredibly thorough in teaching us how to technically how to do anything with clay. The teachers were so good at introducing me to techniques that I always had a hard time picking a favorite since. Therefore I use them all and utilize handbuilding,wheel throwing and sculpting in the studio. And more recently I am incorporating found objects, and really weaving my rural influences into the work.
What first made you want to become an artist?
I knew from the age of four that I wanted to become an artist. I know this because my sister recalls me telling her with total conviction. I’m not sure where the confidence in that decision would have come from, but I feel proud of that little girl who didn’t have self doubt. It was a simple decision to me then, somehow I felt it was the best thing to be.
What emotional response do people have when they view your work or hold it in their hands?
I am so lucky here in Fort St. John, because the community has really welcomed my ceramics with open arms. I am open to the public every saturday at my studio named kilnhouse, and when people come in they have an incredibly positive reaction to the work. The mugs are the most popular item and my customers always tell me that they’ve never seen pottery like this anywhere and they love to use my mugs every day. They love that they’re completely unique and both rustic and beautiful.
What do you do when you are not creating?
I get outside as much as I can in the summer because the winters here are long and brutal, creating a deep humbleness in the northern people. So going for a walk, heading to the beach, berry picking or working in our recently planted first garden just feels like heaven! I love to cook healthy meals and find that its a totally creative endeavour in which the pressure is (mostly) removed which is nice. I also love to decorate our home and do research into the hottest fashion and music trends. I find all of these things feed the art practice.
Buffalo Rose the exhibition by Shannon Butler runs from August 20th, 2015 – October 1st, 2015.
Opening: Thursday, Aug 20th, 6-8 pm
@ Craft Council of BC
1386 Cartwright Street, Granville Island
Artist Talk: Thursday, Aug 20th, 6-7pm
@ Carousel Theater, across the street at
1411 Cartwright Street, Granville Island
(Images Credit Sarah Sovereign Photography)