Who: My name is Terri Shinn, and I am 63. I have been a full-time artist for over 25 years — mostly self-taught, with an occasional class here and there. After being named Snohomish County Artist of the Year in 2005, I felt the need for more training to grow as an artist. This year-long search for the right textile school led me to Gail Harker’s Creative Studies Center. For nearly 11 years, I studied color and design elements, while experimenting with new kinds of stitch, multimedia and construction techniques. I hope to never quit learning and growing as an artist, but completing the program has allowed me more time to get involved with other arts organizations. I am currently a member of the Northwest Designer Craftsmen, Contemporary Quilters and the Surface Design Association, as well as returning board member for the Schack Art Center in Everett.
What: I am mostly a fiber artist, but I like to keep pushing myself, so my art has developed a more mixed-media slant. Texture is my muse. Anytime I can make a piece more tactile, it is a success to me. I seem to have been on a nature theme for some time now. Roots, rocks and trees are some of my favorites. My color palette seems to fluctuate from earth tones to primary, depending on my mood. I also try to add as much detail as possible, which makes my work very time-consuming. Most pieces take a few months, but “Methuselah” took 1,800 hours to create over several months.
When: I have always loved fabric. Starting out by making traditional quilts, like my grandmothers and aunts, and moving on to embroidery and making clothes. My quilts soon became more and more dimensional, whether it was adding on buttons, watermelon seeds, blown up balloons or ribbons. I have been so fortunate to have a very supportive husband, Kevin, who encourages my creativity. He has even been a dumpster-diver for some needed metal pieces. I work mostly in a small studio in my home, but have been known to take over the kitchen, dining room, living room and the garage. As an artist, you can never have enough space.
Where: I have lived in Snohomish for 26 years, coming from Anchorage, Alaska, in the 1990s. When we moved here all those years ago, I thought I would need to go to Seattle for my art. I was heartened to realize in a very short time what a fabulous art community we have in Snohomish County. In my solo show at the Arts Council of Snohomish County (now the Schack) several years ago, I titled my show “With a Little Help from My Friends.” Meeting and being brought into the folds of all these incredible artists and organizations has truly made me the artist — and person — I am today.
Why: Art feeds my soul. It nourishes me, calms me and excites me! I can’t imagine not being able to create, as it is my voice. Learning to really look at details of a rock, flower or whatever is such a gift. I now get lost in the smallest line or curve of a building, a chip of paint, a rusty nail. Sharing art with children is the best, especially with our five grandchildren. They are so lucky to have all the possibilities, such as graffiti, neon and recycling. There really are endless ways to make art now. Not just drawing or pottery, which was all that was taught in my high school. I love seeing youth in our community opening their eyes to their surroundings, and being encouraged to create and appreciate the beauty of art.
How: I dye most of my fabric and threads myself. Sometimes the fabric or a photograph leads me on a direction. But I have had objects, like several water faucet handles, start me into an 8-by-10-foot piece. My usual process is to start sketching an idea, then sample techniques, fabrics and threads. By sampling I hope to find what works and what doesn’t. I document — even the mistakes — because you never know when they might lead to another project. Needless to say, I have a closet full of binders and sketchbooks.
Favorite piece: It’s a toss-up which piece I like the best right now. Two that I’m most proud of are “Time Crumbles Things” and “Methuselah.” When I made “Time,” I was really interested in the decay of buildings. So I challenged myself to make a textured wall out of fiber, complete with peeling paint, stucco, rust, shingles and doors. I feel it was a success, and was honored to have it purchased by an art collector on Bainbridge Island. “Methuselah” was another self-imposed challenge, this time to make a tree trunk inspired by the twisted and contorted shapes of the bristlecone pine. I wanted the inside of the trunk to look scorched from a fire. Rocks where made from collaging fabrics around real stones, cutting them away, and stitching the fabric so it was enclosed. This piece has been traveling around Brazil all spring in a show, and might be included in a couple more shows there this fall and next spring.
— Sara Bruestle, The Herald
Coming up: Terri Shinn will have a multi-canvas fiber piece titled “Light Connections” in the “Art of the Garden” show opening June 20 at the Schack Art Center, 2921 Hoyt Ave., Everett.
More fiber art: See more of Shinn’s work at www.terrishinn.com.
An artist on exhibit
This story is part of an occasional series in which local artists share the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How on their creative careers — plus the story behind their favorite original artwork. Do you know an artist worthy of a feature in the Good Life section? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.