Game heads, birds, fish, other animals and fire are just a few of the subjects of Shawn Smith’s contemporary artwork. But unlike the many artists who choose to interpret these same items in realistic or impressionistic manners, artist Shawn Smith chooses to take them a step further. He combines the digital world with the real world by constructing his sculptures of wood blocks, creating three dimensional pixelated representations of animals and nature.
Shawn Smith’s Pixelated Sculptures
The artist uses both plain woods such as balsa wood and plywood, and painted woods in colors with ink and acrylics. Here’s a look at several of his pieces.
The Artist’s Statement:
My work investigates the slippery intersection between the digital world and reality. Specifically, I am interested in how we experience nature through technology. When we see images of nature on TV or on a computer screen, we feel that we are seeing nature but we are really only seeing patterns of pixilated light.
For the past few years, I have been creating a series of “Re-things.” These whimsical sculptures represent pixilated animals and objects of nature. I am specifically interested in subjects that I have never seen in real life. I find images of my subjects online and then create three-dimensional sculptural representations of these two-dimensional images. I build my “Re-things” pixel by pixel to understand how each pixel plays a crucial role in the identity of an object. Through the process of pixilation, color is distilled, some bits of information are lost, and the form is abstracted.
Making the intangible tangible, I view my building process as an experiment in alchemy, using man-made composite and recycled materials to represent natural forms.
My conceptual and material practice explores identity, color, labor, technology, and science. As an object maker, I am interested in relating these concepts back to the symbiotic connection between the hand and the “thing.” This relationship is a basic principle in the development of the modern human–biologically, technologically, culturally, and scientifically. I want my work to serve as a conversation starter as to the importance of the “thing” in our history and how this relationship is changing with technology, as we become more removed from first hand experience by observing the world through a screen. (courtesy of Craighead Green Gallery)
Shawn Smith was born in 1972 in Dallas, TX where he attended Arts Magnet High School and Brookhaven College before graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, MO with a BFA in Printmaking in 1995. Smith received his MFA in Sculpture from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 2005. He has received artist-in-residencies from the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, CA and the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris, France. In 1996, Smith was a recipient of the Clare Hart DeGolyer grant from the Dallas Museum of Art. In 2006, he was commissioned to create a monumental public sculpture in San Francisco, CA. Smith’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States and in France. Smith currently resides in Austin, Texas and is represented by Craighead Green Gallery in Dallas and d. berman gallery in Austin.