Shannon Cartier Lucy’s paints impressions that seem recognisable and realistic, but that have an absurd quality to them. Her current show Fooled Again at Galerie Hussenot in Paris comprises gorgeous paintings of female characters who always seem somewhat at a distance. A hand covering their face, or turned away from the viewer, they draw you in, making you want to know more about them. They’re both intimate and uncomfortable. It’s like she invites us into a movie that’s been stopped still. Her paintings are both endearing and intriguing, and we’ve always wanted to know more about her work. Having studied under Lisa Yuskavage in New York, she now lives and works in Nashville where she creates her gorgeous works. We spoke to Shannon about her inspirations, her Paris show and her hopes for 2021.
When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?
I knew I was a creative type very early on, but when it was time to attend college, I still did not want to go to art school. I chose NYU mainly just to be in NYC right out of high school. I decided to sign up for a painting class, but had to get approval, not being an art major. So, Lisa Yuskavage was the professor. At some point, she asked me why I’m not an art major. I said I figured people can’t really be artist-artists for a real job. She said something to the effect of “Of course you can, just don’t come to me for help fresh out of grad school broke and eating tuna fish out of a can.” The seed was planted, to pursue a career in art, and I have regretted it ever since, lol.
Can you tell us about your current show Fooled Again in Paris?
I have a painting in this show with hands holding a card that says Fooled Again. I guess like a lot of musicians, I used the painting title for the show. Although I am not intentionally guiding the viewer to interpret the paintings in the show in any particular direction with a set narrative per se, on observation I think the paintings altogether sort-of tell an emotional story, with an air of betrayal and madness. Ideas come to me painting by painting, so I didn’t necessarily plan this theme. In one painting is a woman with a giant bow on her head with her head in her hands, another has a woman in a soft pink floral skirt in a meadow holding a red shovel. Another painting is a scene of an iron that seems to have been knocked on a carpet, covered in blood. There is a mystery as to what the story is, and honestly, that’s not for me to tell, plus I don’t know! It’s the image, the mood, the visceral feeling it can invoke.
Who are the people in your paintings?
Hmmm, well, I guess to some degree the figures in my paintings, you could say, are some form of me. For now, I paint women generally. Perhaps because that is what I know! I want the people to be faceless in a way, so that what I am saying is not just about me or a specific person, but something anyone may be able to understand and relate to. Now, when it comes to getting an image to work from, sometimes I use an old magazine clipping or a film still as an inspiration/reference. So some faces may seem a bit familiar if I was painting from a picture of a celebrity of some sort. But that is not what I want to matter over all.
Who or what inspires you?
Inspiration is such a bizarre thing. There are times I am really inspired with energy and ideas for paintings, and images come to me that are really exciting and intriguing to me. Then there are lulls when I just want to watch murder shows on the ID channel and not have anything to do with creating.
When I am really inspired, I usually feed that by looking more at tumblr or anywhere on the internet where I can just ingest images, or I will watch a lot of films. And I just collect images in folders that I can piece together or reference later on in a painting.
What were you up to during the lockdowns?
I bought my first house which sits on a lot of land, so I have been completely obsessed with exploring the woods and creating a home. I told a friend today that if you don’t have a passion project of some sort, you can really go crazy during this time, because things are just so uncertain and it’s that much harder, I think, to be hopeful. So buying this house has really become that for me. That thing that really helps me to stay engaged and keeps me looking forward because I am so eager to see my home change and for my plants to grow. And of course, I am painting, painting, painting…
What would be your advice for young women wanting to be an artist?
This question is funny because of what I just shared about the advice Lisa Yuskavage gave me as my professor.
I would just encourage a young artist to keep the focus on the art, the creating and not the career. Being as real to yourself as you can, because then it’s genuine. And when you are genuine, then people will be drawn to the work because it resonates. I don’t think we need more career artists for the sake of it, but more artists who have something to say.
What are your plans and hopes for 2021?
My plan is to get used to having my art studio in my home. There are real advantages to this arrangement, especially with the Covid situation, but I just dilly-dally all over the place! I’ll put down my paint brush, walk outside and stare at my plants, then I realize I’ve just spent an hour picking up sticks or something. So, focus, focus, focus in 2021! I have to complete three art shows this year- spring in London with Soft Opening, and Fall/winter with Lubov NYC and KARMA, so I better get going!!
My hope is that we can all let all this dis-ease and uncertainty really sink in so that we can be more present and enjoy the moments that are just passing us by.