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Shannon Nowak


“If you knew that you would die today, if you saw the face of God and love, would you change” Singer, Tracy Chapman

That is exactly what happened to me, that answer is Yes. I won't go into the details of what happened due to this being an artistic approach, but it is very profound in my development as an Artist. I consider myself to always having been an Artist. Plus, I have always loved flowers. My Grandmother would give me coloring books of flowers that included the popular name along with the scientific included. For example, the Lady Slipper is really called Cypriedium acaule. Not your typical children's coloring books!
In 1996 I received the second highest scholarship to Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI due to a very unique sense of color. Fast forward to 2006 when I had a heart procedure at the age of 29. It was after this event that I really delved into my development as an Artist. I taught myself how to use water mixable oils to keep the fumes down. I started with laying down color simply for expression. It quickly turned to geometric shapes and space within the compositions. Then it moved to telling a story with the shapes that related to Bible verses. For more of a challenge I moved my attention to flowers, my first love. That evolved into combining the geometric abstract background with flowers in the foreground. Eventually that just wasn't satisfying enough. I started working larger and decided to add some flair with gold, silver, and copper leaf compositions. During this time, I fine-tuned my color and realism technique all the while experimenting with other materials: wood panels, flexible modeling paste, lace and custom hand cut templates.
All this has now brought me to the believe that the best of my work is yet to come. I now understand my work is ultimately about restoring hope, reviving life, and remembering beauty in a broken world. My main objective when I say 'revival', it is inspired by the early European 15th century religious works, but also for the viewer to feel an awakening in their Spirit and peace. I'm in Awe of the technical mastery of the water gilding process but also how the tooling / punch work designs were used to bring emphasis to the subject matter. This same technical mastery and feeling of renewal are the goals for my work and extends to even greater than that. The painting titled, “Renaissance”, in my submitted work, is actually a border design for a much larger painting being at least 6' x 6'. Leather stamping tools will be used for the tooling designs in the backgrounds. These new works will also include 22 carat gold leafing using the original water gilding method. This exemplifies the elegant, classical and delicate nature of these new works. There isn't an Artist is doing anything like this!
My work is meant to be personal and to promote healing. It is meant to remind the viewer of the good that is still in humanity and the world. For example, an eventual self-portrait idea I have in design stages, is titled “I am no victim”, after the song by Kristene DiMarco. The song is about how God truly sees us as His children. He doesn't hold onto the tragedy; He sees us as beautiful. This particular painting is about being a survivor of sexual abuse. Being a Survivor means that there once was brokenness, damage was done but there has been a recovery and revival. There are scars, but I have made it and I AM living. Isaiah 61:3 says this “and to provide for who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting for the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Many Artists would focus on the damage, even do an in-depth series on whatever the negative might be. This only causes a standstill and no healing, but not I. There is beauty in survival, recovery and revival. This painting will be one with gold leafing around a nude painting of myself. In place of damaged ovaries and painful adhesion that stretch from the outside of my stomach, weaving between intestines to the outer lining of my uterus will be flowers. The flowers that are selected are very specific because of their meanings too. In place of ovaries will be Birds of Paradise, Clematis Vine in place of adhesion, and Roses for the uterus. Birds of Paradise represent the sharp pains I still continue to deal with every month, but this flower also symbolizes freedom and joy. Freedom and joy exist in having survived. The Clematis Vine symbolizes mental beauty. Red and white roses symbolize beauty, courage, and innocence & the heavenly. There will be a halo of blue Morning Glories around my head because they mean hope and the beauty of things. This self-portrait is meant to say to all there is a point you can get to and say, “Look how far you've come!”

“and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts-to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze” Exodus 31:3-4



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