On my fibre education: Shanell B. Papp, B.F.A., M.F.A. University of Lethbridge PDF  | Print |  E-mail


Shanell B. Papp and Body, 2004,  
Materials: Wood, Fabric, String Plaster
Techniques: Woodworking, Sewing and Body Casts

               My interest in making things began in my Grandmothers Flea Market. When I was little, I was often left with my siblings, at the Flea Market for my Grandmother to watch. Most of these days were spent digging through dusty forgotten things. Much of these discarded items were clothing, fabric scraps, yarn and patterns. I was encouraged to play with everything and I taught myself overtime how to work with textiles. I tried to work with all the mediums and materials available to me at the time, I mainly learned through failed experimentation and instructional books.


 Lab, 2005-2007
Materials: Yarn
Technique: Crochet

 In 2001, I began my Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Lethbridge. When I began University I focused primarily on photography and video, then became more interested in sculpture, printmaking and drawing. The University of Lethbridge does not have a textile program or facilities, but it does have a very liberal arts program. I was supported in my interest in working with textiles/fibres.  The University of Lethbridge is a great school with fantastic undergraduate studio spaces, clean safe facilities, amazing professors and many interesting visiting artist lectures every week. The University of Lethbridge gave me an amazing foundation and encouraged me to continue making work.           


Bone Book and Blood
Bone book and Blood Pools, 2007-2009
Materials: Canvas, Velvet, Thread
Techniques: Sewing, Embrodery, Pattern Making

   From 2005 on I have received some slow building recognition for my work. A show in Vancouver at Gallery Gachet in 2007, in Calgary for the New Gallery in 2008, in Toronto for the City of Craft in 2009 and in Lethbridge at the University of Lethbridge Art gallery. I also have a few shows lined up this year and my work have been shown in Galleries West and in the in Snap, Crackle, Pop a Catalogue produced by the University of Lethbridge in 2010. It has been fantastic to have these opportunities. I have also received residencies one in 2007 for the Gushul Studio Residency, from Trap\door Artist Run Centre and another this year from the Banff Centre.           

Anxiety, 2010
Materials: Fabric, Gesso, Straight pins
Techniques: Sewing, Painitng,Pinning

In 2008, I began my Masters of Fine Art at the University of Saskatchewan. I also taught introductory Sculpture class (with I fibre/sewing assignment) and  at the University of Saskatchewan I was given the time and resources to build my thesis work Loners. The University of Saskatchewan also had a liberal arts program, which allowed me a great deal of freedom to work in many mediums, but there were many occasions where I was asked to talk about the difference between Craft and Art, in relationship to my work. I felt that faculty and my peers were trying to understand the work my categorizing it as exclusively feminine and domestic, rather than trying to engage with the themes in the work about the body, mass production, common materials, medical practices, crime and labour. I felt this Art and Craft debate was long dead, but for some of my peers and the faculty it was a hurdle for them to engage with the ideas              

  pressure Suit 2009

Pressure Suit, 2009

I’m not sure what it is like for students in fibre departments across Canada.  What kind of experience do they have? Are they encouraged to volunteer, work and apply to galleries or are they encouraged to make sellable functional work? I’m not sure; I have little idea of what is taught in Fibre departments, as a point of contrast from my own educational experience.  I guess I have arrived at working in fibres from a different angle, which has worked for me. The work I do tends to be very labour intensive and my hands are often doing repetitive tasks, sewing, crocheting, knitting, and drawing, filming and carving. I like to keep my mind clear and focused. I am disturbed by the idea of “multitasking” I think it is harmful, foolish and time wasting. I guess I am a bit of a fuddy duddy in this respect, I think the world is full of distractions, boring conversations, long line ups, addictions, inane social events, but ultimately it is your job to find a way to remain focused on what you find important.               


Ghost, 2010
Materials: Paper, Wheat Paste, glass eyes
Techniques: Mold making, pasting, Crochet  

 Shanell B. Papp, B.F.A., M.F.A.

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