Shawn Smith - Sculptures and Public Sculptures
Shawn Smith
Shawn Smith

Shawn Smith

Austin, TX

My work investigates the slippery intersection between the digital world and reality. Specifically, I am interested in how we experience nature through technology. I grew up in a large city only experiencing the natural world through computers and television screens. With my work, I create three-dimensional sculptural representations of two-dimensional images of nature I find online. I build my objects pixel by pixel in an overtly laborious process in direct contrast to the slipperiness and speed of the digital world. Through this process of pixelation, details become distilled, distorted, or deleted. I am interested in how each pixel plays an important role in the identity of the object, the same way each cell plays a crucial role in the identity of an organism. As species decline and fade into memory, so many animals and organisms now have a stronger presence in the digital world than in the natural world.

I received my BFA in Printmaking from Washington University in St. Louis, MO and my MFA in Sculpture from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. I have received artist-in-residencies from the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, CA and the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris, France. In 1996, I was a recipient of the Clare Hart DeGolyer grant from the Dallas Museum of Art.

My work has been exhibited at Hå Gamle Prestegard, National Art and Culture Center of Norway, Gallery Mark Hachem (Paris, France), Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art, (Vaasa, Finland), and extensively throughout the United States including the Oakland Arts Museum, Austin Museum of Art, Arthouse at the Jones Center (Austin), Stephen Wirtz Gallery, Southern Exposure (San Francisco), Grand Rapids Art Museum, Berkeley Art Center, Richmond Art Center, di Rosa Art and Nature Preserve (Napa), Dean Lesher Center for the Arts (California), Holter Museum of Art (Montana), Galveston Art Center, Lawndale Art Center (Houston), Wichita Falls Museum of Art (Texas), the Armory Art Center (Florida), Scion Installation Center (Los Angeles), the Grace Museum (Abilene, TX), Artisphere (Arlington, VA), the McKinney Avenue Contemporary (Dallas), and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, among others.

In 2006, I was privately commissioned by SKS Investments/X-4 Dolphin LLC to create Doppel Fountain, my first monumental public sculpture for the Fibro-Gen building at 409 Illinois Street in San Francisco’s Mission Bay district. In 2017, I was commissioned to create Convergence, a public art installation consisting of 100 pixelated bird sculptures suspended from the ceiling of the new NYPL Westchester Square Library in the Bronx, for which I received a 2018 NYC Excellence in Design Award from the New York Public Design Commission. Currently, I am in the fabrication phase for Burning Bright, a 71 foot long powder-coated steel panther to be installed in front of Fire Station 42 in Fort Worth, Texas. In addition, I’m currently in the fabrication phase for an 18 foot tall pixelated giraffe commissioned by the US Department of State for the US Embassy in Niamey, Niger.

In addition to my public art works, I have received commissions to create works for many private and corporate clients including Facebook, Microsoft, Adobe, Fidelity Investments, Boston Consulting Group, W Hotels, Frost Bank, and Wired Magazine-UK, among others. My work is in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery in Washington DC, the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the Explora Science Museum in Albuquerque, NM, and the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas.

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