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An Interview with Boundaries & Frontiers Artist Avery Shoemaker

By: Ann Cernek


Ann Cernek (AC): Could you start by telling me a little bit about yourself?

Avery Shoemaker (AS): Yeah, I’m from Minneapolis, I’m 20 years old and studying environment at McGill. 

AC: What about your artwork?

AS: I started painting when I was about 12, but very, very casually. I always enjoyed art class in school, but I can’t really point to a moment in which I decided to really dedicate my time to painting. I think I am more of a dabbler in a lot of things, I don’t really have one passion. I’ve played the piano most of my life and I draw a lot…I have also tried printmaking…in a way, I feel like a lot of my art is impatient, in that I’ve never really sat down to really learn and dedicate myself to one technique. 

AC: How do you pick which medium to use? 

AS: I really love painting and I have a great time with it, but it’s also not the right medium for every expression. I feel like I’m okay with moving between different media, sometimes I’ll paint, sometimes I’ll draw and sometimes I’ll write. So I don’t really have much coherence in my work but I just do what feels right. 

AC: Do you have any formal training, other than art class in school? 

AS: I never really had the desire to take visual art classes as a kid. But now I do. I really wish I had taken the opportunity to learn techniques and even visual art theory. Art was never really a passion, but it’s nevertheless always had a strong presence in my life. 

AC: How have your studies and ideas about the environment influenced your art work? 

AS: I’m studying environment because I want to better understand what is going on in the world and […] It’s important to trace things back to the environment. It’s a good place to start explaining how humans behave, [and] how they treat what is not human. At the core, I’m interested in our place on the planet, how we interact with each other but also with entities that we don’t consider as important as ourselves. The ideas and feelings that I’ve expressed in most of my art lately have been related to the environment or environmental issues. 

AC: What about Dependence, the painting that you submitted to The Fridge Door Gallery (FDG) art show? This is just one of your many works that features figures, can you explain your interest in creating figures? 

AS: What started me on the FDG painting is that I just wanted to practice and put brush to canvas. And yes, I also wanted to work on figures, so I just started from there. I didn’t really start from an idea but rather from an impulse. Eventually, it took form. I’m actually still working on the painting, I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. 

AC: Is this also an exploration of the human relationship to the environment? 

AS: Yeah I think a lot about the permeability of our bodies and about how much we actually share with the organisms that surround us. I think I use these figures to try to communicate the idea that we, as humans, are very fragile and are living in a false stability. 

AC: How does this work fit in with FDG’s theme of “boundaries and frontiers”? 

AS: I think people tend to think of their skin as a boundary, as a delineation of their form. But to me that’s a fake boundary. Instead, we should think about our bodies without boundaries, as unstable entities, and consider how we affect everything that we encounter. 

Check out Avery’s work on Instagram:

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