Shannon Holt, Shannon Holt Art
Statement of Why Body Art?
I went to a very good art school in Philadelphia. I went for five years, including each summer. I trained rigorously while in school, as if my life depended on it. Because it did. I use everything I learned each time I make a work of art. But, I didn't go to school for body painting... that I had to teach myself.
Body art is an ancient art. It is tribal, cultural and sometimes religious. People have been smearing mud and pigments on themselves since the times of cave painting. (in France!) Body art is a new art as well. Using body paint which is actually hypoallergenic, theatrical, extremely opaque makeup is just recently becoming main-stream. When I started experimenting with it in 2009, a seed was planted, and I have become consumed with the drive to make more and more works of art on the most expressive surface I have ever encountered: the skin of a willing model! When I got the phone call from a Hollywood producer to come audition for Skin Wars, (a reality body painting television show,) I knew it was meant to be! This was another stepping stone in my career as an artist, and no matter what, I had to go for it and do my best! I am very passionate about anything which will bring awareness and appreciation to this modern art form, even if it means putting my life and work on television for 11.8 million viewers to judge.
There is so much an artist can do with body painting. I can camouflage a person into the landscape or into a sculpture or monument, using vantage point techniques I learned in school. I can paint a totally new face on a model's face which is a makeup illusion. I can honor my favorite artists in history. I can create an art installation and watch my painting twirl and bend and become something else entirely with each moment. I can create a character in history which pops out of a painted reproduction of a familiar background. I can honor wildlife, as I draw an undeniable correlation between humans and animals. I can illustrate that we are our environment, we are each other. This art form opens up a whole array of new questions to answer, and ideas to explore for me. I can also create paintings in my studio, and incorporate them into my body paintings, creating something new out of something old. I can sell prints of these body paintings, and that is my end goal with my fine art body paintings: to have a show, or have a gallery space in which to sell high end giclee' photographs or sublimations of limited edition works.
Meanwhile, body art is also a great vehicle for making money as an artist. The struggle to live as a working artist is real; this is what I do for a living, full time. I am very grateful that I discovered my love for body art, because I can really use it to manifest a more commercial vision as well. I can paint the idea of high fashion, or of a printed fabric which has value for an avant garde fashion designer. (I dream of being hired at Fashion Week!) I can do beautiful, strange makeups for magazines, TV, and film. I can make people incredibly happy, and get lots of love from them, with a painted transformation at major festivals across the US. I can do an advertising campaign for any product using body art. I can create a theatrical stage performance with it. I can entertain at parties with body painted models who move and interact with guests. And, I can also paint joyful guests with smaller, sparkly, crystal embellished filigree designs on their arm, eye, or décolletage which match their gowns. It is a wonderful vehicle to explore my own art making, while making money, and bringing awareness to the issues which are important for me to share with viewers.
I am still pursuing my artistic goals with the same passion and fervor that I had in art school twenty years ago. The journey exploring who I am as a painter will expand if I am chosen to body paint abroad and I will be that much closer to discovering bigger and better artworks I can create as an artist pushing her own boundaries. I want to surprise people, with my art. I want them to be amazed, feel happy, and thoughtful.