Visual artist Lana Shuttleworth is best known for how she uses safety cones and post-consumer plastics as mediums. In 2008 Shuttleworth and her work were featured as an answer on television's "Jeopardy." Host Alex Trebeck read, "Lana Shuttleworth created this 10 ft landscape out of these roadside safety devises."
Shuttleworth has been working with non-traditional mediums for more than 20 years. She creates through a transformative process that starts with deconstruction and then progresses to formation. One person's trash is another person's, well... art supplies, and Shuttleworth's artistic statement is linked to her belief that as citizens of the world we must act as stewards of the environment and reduce, reuse, and recycle to prevent catastrophic degradation of the Earth's resources and natural landscape.
We live in a time where we can buy practically anything with only a few clicks and keystrokes. When we are too focused on convenience, however, we often overlook the environmental costs of consumption habits that have increased as a result of technological advances and global markets. Where does all the "stuff" go when we discard it and truthfully what is the earth's capacity to store or decompose all of our rubbish?
Plastic starts in nature as an organic product. Cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt, and crude oil are combined through complex processes to give us our packing, shopping bags, bottles, zip ties, and drinking straws. Much of Shuttleworth's body of work depicts both literal and idealized landscapes. With her mindful approach to the creative process, Shuttleworth has found a way to return post-consumer synthetics back to a state of nature and harmony. Like so many artists, Shuttleworth's work is a labor of love. She cuts, carves, and then nails slivers of plastic to surfaces and through this process she creates layered mosaic landscapes.
Shuttleworth has a series of work currently on exhibit at The Space Gallery in downtown Jacksonville. The exhibit, titled "More than This" opened on April 21st and will run until May 21st. Contact The Space Gallery at 904-651-9039 to inquire about gallery hours.
10 Questions with Lana Shuttleworth
Do you have any patterns, routines, or habits when starting a new project?
I typically begin my creative process with a lot of pacing, a little skipping, and sometimes some dancing. The ideas seem to flow better when I’m in motion.
What have you learned about yourself through your artistic endeavors?
I’ve learned that in art I can be fearless, make my own rules, and go where no one has gone before.
How do you define success in what you do?
This is a question I review time and time again.
When I lived in Los Angeles my measures of success revolved around beating the odds. My challenge was making a living as an artist in a highly competitive market. My goal was achieving what I only dreamt I could achieve, and in doing these things I reached levels I never imagined.
Now I’m competing with myself to build on my previous success by attempting things I have never tried before in a new market with a whole new set of challenges. For me, achieving success involves the act of problem solving.
What drew you to using recycled and reclaimed materials as a medium?
Guilt. I just can’t live with the idea of an overabundance of waste. We should all be Reusing, Recycling and Revisioning new ways to Reduce waste.
This is our world, and collectively we need to become better stewards of our planet. Just because the trash fairies make our smelly rotten waste disappear weekly doesn’t mean it no longer exists. It’s still here, just out of sight. As one of the few artist making art out of safety cones, it gives me a unique identity.
What did you learn about the materials as you interacted with them and explored ways to use them?
I realized I am a huntress and the safety cone is my buffalo. I discovered I could utilize every part of the safety cone, from the “pelt" or cone "flesh" to the "feet" beneath the cones’ base, much like the Native American Indians utilized every part of the buffalo.
Your work draws a relationship between consumption and nature. Has your work influenced your personal consumption habits?
Certainly. I am always looking for ways to reduce my carbon footprint, like riding my bike to get a bite to eat. I'm continually discovering new uses for household waste. Coffee bags and plastic packaging are good examples and make great art materials. I also enjoy finding lightly used items at thrift stores.
The hardest habit for me to break was avoiding the use of drinking straws. I still miss them! Gulp!
"Origins," an 8' chicken sculpted from road cones, steel, and wood migrated from California and found a new temporary home in Downtown Jacksonville's Hemming Park in 2016. What's next for "Origins" since it has been removed from downtown?
Well “Origins”, aka: “Snacker” as I fondly refer to her, has undergone a double amputation at the ankles. Her prognosis is good. She should have her new feet within the next couple of weeks. She will be the first chicken of her size to live in Riverside since City Ordinance 2015-337 (the "chicken ordinance”) passed.
You are so well known for using safety cones as a medium that you were featured as a clue on Jeopardy in 2008. Do you ever feel confined as an artist to use the materials for which you're best known?
Yes, I get far more requests for the works created from safety cones, but with every exhibition I make a point to include new materials. All polyvinyl materials or plastics are discarded at an alarming rate. I try to "leave no bottle behind.”
Do you have any recommendations on how visual artists can cultivate relationships with gallery owners and curators?
Artists are independent contractors. The relationship between the artist and the gallery is a business relationship, and I treat it as such. We are dependent on each other to meet deadlines, honor contracts, and provide services and/or products promised. I make every effort to promote the galleries I exhibit with, and in return I expect them to do their part promoting my work.
Cultivating relationships with gallery owners, curators, museum directors, and their associates is vital. Open dialogue is essential. If we work together, we all succeed. When the Art World succeeds, we grow as a civilization.
How do you promote yourself, your work, and your mission?
I send out as many press releases and as much social media as I can for each show. In doing this, it benefits the gallery, myself, and the blossoming creative culture of Jacksonville by informing the community that art exist and is open to everyone. I also try to make myself available to speak to schools, gallery groups, and any other interested individuals.