SOLO Studio Visit: Shawn Hunt

Shawn Hunt

Booth S3

Macaulay & Co. Fine Art (Vancouver)


Describe your studio/place of work. What is important to you about your workspace?

I have two studios. I paint in my home studio, and I work on sculpture at our family studio. Both are located on the Sunshine Coast, a 45 minute ferry ride from West Vancouver. I really like painting at home. It allows me to live with the paintings full time while I create them, and I can work on them whenever I want. My painting studio has lots of natural light and high enough ceilings to do fairly large paintings. Sculpture is a much more messy process and not really practical to work on at my home studio. Our family studio is a short distance away. It’s a space that I share with my father and brother that is full of hand tools and power tools that my dad has acquired during his lifetime as an artist. The studio is a place where I go to escape the everyday world. A sanctuary. A place where I can immerse myself in the process of creation completely uninterrupted.

 

How would you describe your practice?

I am an artist of Heiltsuk First Nations and European Canadian descent. I started out my career carving jewelry, but now I mostly paint and make sculpture. I am interested in the evolution of Heiltsuk mythology, ceremony, traditional design and art. I don’t see myself as that different from my ancestors, I’m just dealing with different circumstances. I’m interested in where my Heiltsuk culture intersects, overlaps or stands in contrast to Western European colonial culture. I see myself as a bridge between two cultures, belonging to both while at the same time being a bit of an outsider as well.

 

How has your practice evolved over time?

My practice has evolved quite a lot. As I stated earlier, evolution is a characteristic that is at the core of my practice. I started out making art as a very young child, and have consistently drawn my entire life. In college and university I concentrated on sculpture. My dad taught me to carve, and I did a 4 year apprenticeship with him after finishing my BFA. I began my career by carving jewelry. I worked at it obsessively until I made the art form my own. My success in jewelry led me to opportunities in sculpture. I went from making tiny wearable art to making massive architectural installation. In 2008 after 8 years of jewelry and sculpture I began painting. I had no training in painting and found it challenging and intimidating. Around this time I met and was asked by Coast Salish artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun if I wanted to come work with him and learn the craft of painting. I did an apprenticeship with him from 2012-2015.

 

What works can we expect to see at Art Toronto 2018?

For art Toronto I’m showing sculpture and painting. The paintings are from two different series that I have been working on congruently. My Mask/Face series involves the deconstruction and the reconfiguration of traditional Heiltsuk design into recognizable portraits. The other series of paintings is influenced by an element of Heiltsuk design called the formline. The formline is the black line in traditional design. It is where the design gets its structure from. I call these paintings Neoformline. I am engaging with and evolving this line in new and radical ways. I am bringing two sculptures to Art Toronto, one is a totem pole that has been literally flipped on its head in protest. The other sculpture is what I call an assemblage carving. Sculptures made to resemble Western European statuary, but are actually assembled out of masks, bowls, spoons, tools and pieces of regalia.
 

What do you want people to take away from your work?

I want people to realize that our art form is not just found in Anthropology museums. I want people to realize that we are a living thriving and evolving people. I want the viewer to understand that we have an ancient culture but we have and always will be looking to the future.