Shanna Fliegel is drawn to the physicality of clay and the way in which it documents the artist’s every touch through form and surface. She explains that nature of the material dictates a dance of creation: her movement around the work; the manipulation of the form; even the lifting of bags of clay and then the works into and from the kiln. “I find that my spirit connects with movement, and I find that this very versatile substance is something I have to really engage with.” On clay as the medium through which the artist’s intent is documented she explains how, “Essentially any fingerprint, or movement, or reaction, or intentful shaping, is something that remains within the form. Whether I am drawing into a surface or I am moving a coil around the rim of a pot, it’s this record of time, my thoughts and my ideas.”
Shanna has also found a community in the world of ceramics, where ideas and techniques are freely shared. The connections she has made with those whom she has learned from, been inspired by, or with whom she has shared her knowledge, are strong and lasting. She considers many of her cohort as family.
She uses a number of techniques. Her wall-based pieces are generally red clay slabs, while most of her vessels are coil-built. For her surfaces she combines a screen-printing technique called Thremofax, sgraffito scratched through white underglazes, hand-drawn and painted imagery, and washes of glazes and mason stains.
She hopes that the viewer is drawn in by the restful and calming color pallet, and by the forms that have their roots in the familiarity of historical storage jars, pitchers, and Greek and Roman urns. She hopes that the viewer feels promoted to move around the work and discover the imagery contained on the surface – imagery that has a surreal feel and is, at times, intentionally disconcerting. Her intent is to draw you in and then shift your perception to provoke and emotional response or curiosity. Her narrative is oblique and implicit, leaving the interpretation to the viewer.
Shanna attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA where she earned her BFA in Studio Art with a concentration in Ceramics. Shortly after graduating in 2001 she accepted a year-long residency at the Cub Creek Foundation in Appomattox, VA. Here she connected with potters and sculptors from Shigaraki, Japan and Seoul, Korea. These relationships strengthened her background in wood-firing, native clays, and surface.
She received her MFA in Studio Art/Ceramics at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, IL in 2008. She has had residences at Greenwich House Pottery in the West Village, the Clay Art Center in Port Chester, NY; the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, MT, and Guldagergaard International Ceramics Research Center in Denmark. She has held teaching positions at Montana State University in Billings, Montana and Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, before relocating to teach ceramics and sculpture at Governor's Academy in Byfield, MA.