Next Big Things: Shona McAndrew
The Philadelphia artist explores the idea of women as muses and owning their physical and emotional surroundings
Shona McAndrew doesn’t like to limit herself to one medium. In her Philadelphia home studio, she might spend one day painting and the next sculpting with papier-mâché or printmaking. Despite these fluctuations, her artwork shares a resolute message—one that celebrates women of all shapes and sizes for the beauty of who they truly are.
Studio practice: McAndrew re-creates famous paintings through digital collage as an inspiration for her models. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she sent them her image as well as the original work and asked them to re-create it in their own setting and clothing—what they sent back became the basis for her painting. “It feels like an adventure,” she says. “I love not knowing or choosing exactly what I’m going to paint. It’s fueled by their own feelings and desires.”
Early inspiration: “I was born and raised in Paris. I had the luck of taking classes in the Louvre every Wednesday. I experienced grand paintings and remember thinking, Where do you start with 30 people in a painting? Now I like working with a lot of information, pattern, and textures. I enjoy creating an invention for your eyes.”
Breakout moment: A 58-piece installation, crafted almost entirely of papier-mâché and depicting McAndrew and her boyfriend lying in bed, caught the art world’s eye at 2019’s Spring/Break Art Show in New York. “It was an odd thing, looking at a sculpture of myself and watching people look at my naked body,” she recalls.
Up next: A solo exhibition at the Tribeca gallery Chart in the spring and an installation at upstate New York art destination Art Omi. shonamcandrew.com
“Shona’s recent work is a nonhierarchical collaboration between artist and subject, one that isn’t charged with old notions of power, but allows the sitter a new freedom of expression.”Andrea Glimcher, founder, Hyphen