Shonna Pryor

Profile  |  Artworks
Garden 44: Kale, 2017 Wooden Planter Boxes (Installation) Variable Height © Pryor
Garden 44: Kale (detail)
Tablecloth Archive: "Fired up and ready to go...that's what I say!", 2017 Vintage Tablecloth 36"X48" © Pryor
Tablecloth Archive: "Nothing wrong with showing those arms, they're good arms!", 2017 Vintage Tablecloth 65"X52" © Pryor
Tablecloth Archives, 2016 Sourced Vintage Tablecloths With Food Residue 55" X 67" © 2016
Seed of the Poplar Tree, 2016 Installation: Soil, Wooden Door Panel, Frame 84" X 34" © 2016
Seed of the Poplar Tree (detail)
residency studio 2016
Gumbo Chronicles, 2016 Found Antique Oven, Audio Sound 24" X 26" X 25" © 2016
Photo Document from intervention performance at Art Basel Miami, 2014 , 2014 Digital Photo 48 X 32 © 2014
Canvas Mobile No. 4 from intervention performance at Art Basel Miami, 2014 , 2014 Performative Garment: Laser Cut Cotton Canvas, Thread © 2014
Canvas Mobile No. 4 (rear view), 2014 © 2014
Photo Document from INTERVENTION PERFORMANCE AT EXPO CHICAGO, 2014 Digital Still Photography 48"X32" © 2014
CANVAS MOBILE No. 3 from intervention performance, 2014 Performative Garment: Cotton Canvas, Acrylic Screenprint On Polyester Lining, Thread © 2014
Photo Document from INTERVENTION PERFORMANCE AT FREIZE NY, 2014 Digital Photography 48"X32" © 2014
CANVAS MOBILE No. 2 from intervention perfomance, 2014 Performative Garment: Cotton Canvas, Silkscreened Acrylic Paint, Cotton Thread One Size © 2014
CANVAS MOBILE No. 2 (detail)
Installation at Woman Made Gallery, 2016 Installation Image Projection, Garment Construction Variable © Pryor
photo document from INTERVENTION PERFORMANCE: ON MURILLO AT ZWIRNER, NY, 2014 Photography © 2014
CANVAS MOBILE No. 1 from intervention performance, 2014 Performative Garment: Cotton Canvas, Silkscreened Acrylic Paint, Cotton Thread © 2014
CANVAS MOBILE No. 1 (detail)
Et tu? (detail)
Et tu?, 2016 Installation Table Setting 36"X48" © Pryor
video still from UP-ROOT, 2014 Digital Video 1min 5sec © 2014
video still from HOW TO MAKE BANANA PUDDING, 2014 Digital Video 1 Min 12 Sec © 2014
video still from HOW TO MAKE RED VELVET CAKE, 2014 Digital Video 1min 4sec © 2014
video performance from IMPRESSIONISM, FASHION AND MODERNITY: AN ITERATION AT THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO, 2013 Digital Video 2min 40sec © 2013
First Communion, 2014 Dirt On Canvas 5"X 5" © 2014
Second Communion, 2015 Dirt, Aluminum Foil On Canvas 12"X 12" © 2015
Mana, 2015 Dirt, Aluminum Foil On Wood Panel 37"X 38" © 2015
Third Communion, 2015 Dirt, Aluminum Foil On Canvas 12"X 12" © 2015
With a cup of Joe, 2015 Dirt, Acrylic Paint On Wood Panel 30"X 30" © 2015
Gravity, 2012 Acrylic Paint, Dirt On Canvas 5' X 9' © 2012
Divided Pi, 2012 Acrylic Paint, Dirt On Canvas 18" X 24" © 2012
40 Acres, 2012 Acrylic Paint, Dirt On Canvas 18" X 24" © 2012
Lascaux II, 2010 Oil Paint On Plexiglass 26"X70" © 2010
Bruce Campbell, 2012 Aluminum Canned Goods, Wooden Frame 26" X 30" © 2012
Food Series: Synthetic Cubism, 2011 Inkjet Transfer On Aluminum Foil 26" X 30" © 2011
Thanks and Giving, 2015 Photo Variable © Pryor
Food Series: Sweet Potato, 2011 Inkjet Transfer On Canvas 8" X 8" © 2011
Stop, 2010 Metal City Stop Sign, Silkscreened Acrylic Paint 30" X 30" © 2010
Stop (detail)
Ticked, 2010 Silkscreened Acrylic Paint On Rag, On Canvas 48" X 8" © 2010
Ticked (detail)
Franken, 2014 Acrylic Paint, Dirt, Hardware Bolts, Copper Wire, Canvas On Wood Panel 36"X48" © 2014
Urban Derive 365, 2011 Video 4:54
Matrix, 2010 Silkscreened Acrylic Paint On Kuba Cloth 30" X 24" © 2010
Quick Facts
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, MFA Painting
The New School, MS Media Management, Arts Programming and Development


                 Due to its invisibility, a black hole is only apparent by the evidence of activities surrounding it. As well, health and social disparities that predominantly affect people of color are contributing evidence of food related politics such as food economies, food policy, and food geopolitics.  My work addresses identity, politics, and sociocultural narrative through the lens of such critical food themes and its peripheral objects and concepts.  I aspire to critique, remember, represent and perhaps inspire response through the mini-narratives born within these contexts both autobiographically as well as within broader cultural frameworks.

                  In addition to relevant reclaimed objects, visual consistencies in my work include print media imagery of the American Financial Stock Pattern (as fiscal/cultural representation, capitalism and 'consumption'); Soil (as physical body, elemental foodstuff and paint pigment genesis); and Fabric (as cultural/political structures and performative skin). One piece among my works feature a found antique stove transformed into a sound piece sculpture. Resonating from the stove's belly is a recorded dialogue from a recipe storytelling workshop I hosted at Lawndale Christian Community Center, Chicago, featuring local African American and Latino seniors. They recount through recipes their experiential connection to food, family and ethnohistories with inspiring candor and surprising cross-cultural connections. Another series of my work consists of intervention performances entitled Gender Bombs and Other Cooking Ingredients. The performances disrupt premier art fairs as provoked by unpainted artist canvases called Canvas Mobiles, which are worn on the body and intermingled within the space. The canvases feature printed and laser cut financial stock data of implied high-artworld players, thus attempting to point to questions of underlying intent of such spaces. Concurrently, the laser cut technique as worn by myself as a black female maker considers the simultaneous absence and presence of commodified female and black bodies historically within consumptive contexts. Art fair attendees document and publish self initiated photo images of this gesture, superimposed on pre-sanctioned artworks in the show, thus creating bespoke visual recontextualizations. Their gesture inadvertently adjusts the imbalance of Other demographics represented in the show.

                 Most recently I have begun to examine the found tablecloth. I am sourcing these objects from actual dining events within the community, from family and friends, as well as other sources such as yard sales and public donations. The familiar functioning of this oftentimes decorative object is to capture and absorb latent foodstuff as we share in hearty conversation over a hearty meal. In doing so, I see the tablecloth also functioning as a storytelling archive that capture and absorb history, memories, and experiences while encompassing the overall spirit of this universal ritual. This direction of my work was inspired by my reflection on the unique experiences of pre- and post-generation Diasporic Africans in relationship to race-specific 'kitchen table talk' or stories that could only conceive in contemplation of its own particular history. Each sourced tablecloth is processed using a forensic science-based technique that visually illuminate trace proteins and starches not visible to the naked eye.  Forensic processes, typically used in the justice system to help prove the events of a crime, in this case symbolically illuminates latent evidence embedded in post-diasporic kitchen table conversations. The newly revealed face of the tablecloth is stretched as a painting and a title is assigned to each according to an actual or imagined contextual sentence. With permission from participants, the conversation may be recorded for audio presentation in conjunction with the paintings. I am also archiving new histories within virgin tablecloths by way of facilitating peaceful resolution dinners between conflicting groups, from political leaders to domestic family conflict.

                  These, in conjunction with other supporting objects, media and methods become process conduits in formulating discourse at the intersection of food as theoretical portal and sociocultural narrative.



Visual Artist, Arts Educator and Media Proprietor

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2012-present



2016—Master of Science in Media Management (Arts Programming and Development), New School, NY, NY

2012—Master of Fine Arts (Painting and Drawing), School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
2010—Post-Baccalaureate Certificate of Fine Arts, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
2002—Bachelor of Fine Arts (Fibers), College for Creative Studies, Detroit, MI




"The Toyko Show: Black is Beautiful" (forthcoming), 3331 Arts Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan


"TABLECLOTH ARCHIVE: On Recipe Storytelling", Threewalls Gallery, Chicago, IL

"The Presidential Library Project: Black Presidential Imaginary", Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL


"Adorn", Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL 

"Surface Place", Abrazo Interno Gallery, New York, NY

"Art from Excess", Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts, Gary, IN

“Gender Bombs and Other Cooking Ingredients” Intervention Performances—

    Expo Chicago, Chicago, IL
     The Armory Show, New York, NY
     Frieze Art Fair, New York

"Gender Bombs and Other Cooking Ingredients” Intervention Performances—                                                    

    Art Basel, Miami
    Whitney Biennial, New York
    Frieze Art Fair, New York 

     Expo Chicago                                                                                                                   

    (Gallery tours led by Jerry Saltz courtesy of Vulture Magazine)—                       

      Gagosian Gallery, New York
      Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York
      Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
      David Zwirner Gallery, New York
      Petzel Gallery, New York

"Female Curves" art video, ExTV Campus Broadcast, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

"Impressionism, Fashion & Modernity" Performance Exhibition, Art Institute of Chicago
"Gender Bombs and Other Cooking Ingredients" impromptu intervention performance—   Expo Chicago, Chicago, IL

"Graduate Thesis Exhibition", The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago IL
"Dialogical Self", The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

"Post-Baccalaureate Thesis Exhibition", The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago IL
"Midnight Snacks", 1366 Space, Chicago, IL

"Full Circle", G.R. N'Namdi Gallery, Detroit MI

"75th Anniversary Show", Detroit Artists Market, Detroit MI


2016    The Jackman Goldwasser Residency, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL


"Female Curves" group show art video broadcast, ExTV Broadcast, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

"Dialogical Self" Group Show, co-curated with Tony Lewis and Christina Long, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

“Street Style: Frieze Edition”, Refinery29

“Motown Leaders Envision a New Paradise Valley: Enclave to Showcase Black Culture”, The Associated Press




“The Great Good Place” publication, Curated by Brandon Alvendia, Threewalls Gallery, Chicago, IL

“Adorn: Contemporary Wearable Art” Artist Talk, Chicago, IL

"Race and Anthropology" classroom guest panelist, School of the Art Institute of Chicago



Archibald Motley Jr. Award

School of the Art Institute of Chicago Merit Scholarship


• Community Advisory Board Member, WTTW Chicago Public Television, Chicago, IL, 2015-16

• Dorchester Community Garden Project Volunteer, Chicago, IL, 2015

• Member of Board of Directors and Fundraising Committee for Creative Art Center Gallery, Pontiac MI, 2007-08

• WDET Detroit Public Radio fundraiser and contributing newsletter writer, 2007-08

• Exhibit Committee Member, Detroit Artists Market, 2006- 07

• Member of the Detroit Institute of Arts Speaker's Bureau, 2005-07