Shannon Cannings Bio
For some time I have been interested in Americana, consumerism, and the plastic veneer that we use to gloss over the surface of things to protect as well as enhance appearance.
My most recent subject matter, toy guns, is more apparently subversive than my past work. As an artist and a consumer, I am drawn to the bright colors and thrilling packaging. I try to make these objects appealing and strong, so that the viewer is as absorbed by the formal beauty of the objects as I am. I have as much connection to the shiny translucent plastic as I do to the childhood nostalgia that they evoke. But I have to ask myself if this is glorifying violence and what lessons are learned from gun play (not gunplay). Does this childhood toy gun fun introduce us to a tolerance of violent language and behavior as adults? Or is it just harmless fun? Names like “Trigger Happy”, “Friendly Fire”, and “Gunplay” diminish the violence of the act that they are meant to describe, making these ideas more palatable.
It is impossible to ignore the current media battle between unbridled gun culture and control. Marketing lulls us into states of unquestioning acceptance of gun culture and marketing as truth. I hope to engage viewers to question with me, and explore their own relationships with guns and gun culture and how they relate to play.
I was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and spent half of my junior year at Temple in Rome, Italy. I received my Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.
My work has been included in exhibitions in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas. Currently, I am teaching drawing, design and sometimes painting at Texas Tech University.