Meet Shannon. She is an artist. An actual person who is doing whatever it takes to piece together a living making art that she loves to make. Even with all the self-imposed pressure, an hourly job to make ends meet and the uncertainty of where the next stack of $40 per sheet paper is coming from, we should all be so lucky.
This candid photograph was taken on September 13, 2010; 9 days after the 7.1 earthquake in Canterbury. Shannon and I were supposed to meet in her studio on the 6th, but that first big earthquake changed those plans along with a number of geological facts and regional geographic landmarks. Her studio was on Manchester Street overlooking the intersection with Worcester Street. That intersection was made infamous by dozens of published photos depicting what was left of Alvarados, the Mexican restaurant turned open-air cantina. The pile of rubble hanging over the dumpster is what's left of what was left of that building at the time.
When we met that afternoon, it was Shannon's first visit back to her studio since the earthquake. She was kind enough to let me capture the experience with my camera even though neither of us knew what to expect. With the benefit of almost 17 months hindsight and a practical understanding of earthquakes now shared by all Cantabrians, it was a pretty bad idea to be in that building. Some windows were blown out, obvious cracks ran along the ceiling and some walls. But hey, the landlord was given an all clear, so she was given an all clear. We were both admittedly a bit jumpy with every shake or bang from the demolition activities. Fortunately, someone came to their senses and kicked Shannon and the others who used this as a studio space out prior to the February quake. This building did not fare well on the 22nd.
We spent just over 3 hours that day talking about her background, current work and how the recent events would shape her upcoming pieces. I was fascinated with the mindset of an artist and a bit envious of her training and the ease at which she handled what I thought were difficult conceptual topics of visual design. I think a great deal more study of the fundamental visual concepts and review of the craft with non-photographers would pay huge dividends for any enthusiast.
By the way, you can find out more about Shannon in tomorrow's aGathering post!