SHAYNA KLEE / THE PURPLE PALACE

CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

SK: My work explores a variety of topics including internet identities, solitude and the pull between our physical realities and the surreal mind. This manifests itself through the creation of colorful and vibrant installations where I combine sculpture, video and performance to create alternate realities in which these stories can play put. Play is really important in my process and the product is often visceral despite the meanings behind the work. I often uses grandiose accessories and fantastic decors to exaggerate this fragility and tension.

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

SK: Some of my biggest inspiration comes from the theater. I love the tension between reality and abstraction that forces the audience to play along (ie a character manipulating a prop or walking around a cardboard set, the lighting transitions and using interesting DIY techniques to bring a fantasy to life). I love Shelly Duvall’s FairyTale Theater series from the 70s. Having grown up in Florida, I’m also really inspired by the Ocean and interesting forms, textures and colors one finds in nature.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

SK: All of my projects start with a funny or really imaginative idea that excites me. I carve out time in my day to day dream a lot and it usually starts off with “wouldn’t it be cool if ____ “ and then I think of ways to make the idea relevant to the culture in which I find myself. I love playing with metaphor and imagery and challenging myself with creative ways to accomplish something. No idea is ever too crazy and I love using satire as well.

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

SK: A sense of wonder or feeling like a door has opened for them to walk through. A feeling of mutual understanding.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

SK: I’m currently getting my MFA and so I feel really lucky to be surrounded by other artists creating interesting things. I think it’s really important to collaborate and it’s something that has enriched my work. I also like to switch things up a lot to avoid getting stagnant. I work between a lot of different mediums and can produce a lot of work in a short period of time. I will have a period of let’s say 6 months, where I am in the studio pumping out a lot of paintings and sculpture pieces and then the next 6 months will work exclusively on filming and editing my short films. I also have my YouTube channel where I document my life and creative process so that is another side project that has a curatorial aspect. It’s funny, I remember the jury for my BFA asking how I have enough hours in the day to balance everything and to be honest, sometimes it can be a struggle. That is why all of my friends tend to be fellow artists. it is so important to have people around who understand this very special relationship we have to our work.

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

SK: I don’t think one is better than the other. I typically have a loose plan but improvise and play because that’s when the magic happens.

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

SK: That you have to be a self starter. This is something you never learn in Art school! I know so many talented artists that give up on their dreams only a few years after school, because what they don’t tell you is being an artist also means being an entrepreneur. Ask yourself—what opportunities do I want? and then create them for yourself. Another is to not worry about people liking what you make. Most people won’t. Make art for yourself and focus on the group of people it does resonate with.

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

SK: Not at all.

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

SK: I’m lucky in the sense that I rarely have blocks. My challenges then mostly stem from balancing everything as someone with many different projects. We only all have so much time in a day and have to pick and choose what we do, which ultimately means having to pass up on things to preserve our mental well being.

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

SK: My imagination is kind to me. No day looks the same.

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

SK: I am inspired by any artist that is taking risks and breaking the rules, but my biggest inspiration of all time is definitely David Bowie. He was really special. I love the experimental and innovative approach he had with his art as well as his ability to constantly reinvent himself. I went to a retrospective on him at the philharmonie here in Paris and it was one of those experiences where I left feeling like someone had just opened a door and gave me permission to do anything I wanted. I practically ran home to start creating right away.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

SK: I think it’s a fantastic tool. I like that it gives the power back to the artist and allows them visibility and the chance to succeed with out going through the gallery system. For so long the art world was only accessible through these
designated ‘gate keepers’ whose interests can often times be money driven. I’m definitely the rebellious type, so I like challenging that system and having the possibility to do things in an alternative way. Because of platforms like Instagram, I’ve been connected to and follow a ton of up and coming artists that I wouldn’t know about otherwise.

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

SK: I should think so.

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

SK: Yes! Paris is my favorite city, so I’m lucky to live here. But my favorite short term trip was definitely to cinque terre in Italy. I love being by the mountains and beach. It was so magical!

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

SK: The Artists way by Julia Cameron. It completely transformed my life and world view as an Artist. It introduced me to the concept of going on artist dates, and the importance of ‘play’ in an art practice. It’s funny, I must’ve bought the book at least a dozen times because I keep lending it out or giving it away to friends as a gift.

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

SK: I have a few big projects I am working on. I am currently working on a collection of poetry and prose which I see as a companion to my film work. I hope to have it published early next year. I have two short film projects and finally, I’m also working on a docu-series on emerging artists like myself.

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

SK: It means asking questions and sometimes finding the answers.

CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?

SK: Alone by The Cry.

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

SK: I’d rather let the work speak for itself.

CHECK OUT MORE ON: SHAYNA KLEE / THE PURPLE PALACE

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