Shannon Mossing

Shannon Mossing

Installation Artist

September 20, 2016


Tell us more about some of your past projects?

I’ve been making installation art since 2008 using embroidery floss as my main medium. All of my projects go back to the obsession that I have with recording personal thoughts, conversations, and experiences, which is why most of my work is text-based. My work translates these personal moments of my life into public displays for people to experience. Displaying private thoughts in public places gives me a sense of freedom. I am always in fear of forgetting the important things, so I like the idea of literally pinning down my thoughts or tethering them to a space.

What current projects are you working on?

I just finished a piece for ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Almost by accident, my last three projects have included some kind of chair. I’ve been really interested in what chairs can represent, like feeling stagnant and unable to move forward. In the past I’ve made work with text sitting on a stool, I’ve embroidered an armchair, and for this project I wanted to make the text an actual part of the chair. For this piece I made two chairs facing each other using the words “Something in us is the same” as the back rests of the chairs. One chair is wrapped completely in green embroidery floss and the other in orange, a color choice that I used in a previous project to represent two different sides of a conversation. It’s meant to represent a connection that was shared and the absence of the people that shared it. I love the idea of the chairs being empty but in dialogue.

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

Toledo has provided me with opportunities in my work life and as an artist. The history and infrastructure from when Toledo was a booming city is still here and available to us in a way that isn't in other cities. The city is on the verge of a revival so there's an excitement about what's to come next and if you're willing to put in the time and effort you can be a part of it. In Toledo I am able to be an installation artist, work a creative job that I love as the Branding Director at Jupmode, and own a building downtown with my husband.

Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

After ArtPrize in 2014, 10 pieces were selected out of 1,500 to be showcased in the Grand Rapids Art Museum for a year and my piece was chosen as one of those 10. I think there are certain moments in life when you feel like you are in the right place doing what you were made for, and installing that day at the GRAM was one of those moments for me.

Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

So many things give me inspiration! I get very excited when my mind stumbles across parallels in life, when something small mimics some much bigger idea. I draw a lot of my inspiration from memories; I’ve been documenting conversations and thoughts in journals since I was very young. It’s nice to look back and remember something and to be able to feel it again. I have always had the gift (or curse, depending how you see it) of feeling very deeply. In my most recent work I’ve been drawing a lot of inspiration from feelings of grief and loss. Art truly is healing.

Tell us about your background.

I’ve always loved art. I grew up in a creative household with a supportive family who always encouraged me to express myself. I have my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Toledo with a concentration in printmaking and a minor in drawing. My focus in printmaking is something that drew me to my job at Jupmode. I love being surrounded by the printmaking process, specifically screen printing, even if I’m not the one printing. Although printmaking was my concentration in school, I have been primarily making installation work for the last 9 years. At some point expressing myself visually on paper wasn’t enough anymore. I was doing a lot of writing at that time and had a kind of epiphany where I realized that I didn’t have to find a way to translate my thoughts into images, the words themselves could be the art. My exploration of text started there.

Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

I don’t have a specific motto or quote, but I do think it’s important to be open and speak your truth.

Favorite place for local culture?

Downtown in general. You can see Toledo’s past, present, and future, all in a 5-minute drive.

Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .

South Toledo! South Toledo doesn’t get enough credit but it really is a fantastic place to live and explore. It’s a tight-knit community, the houses are full of character, it’s located right on the river, Walbridge park is beautiful, and it’s culturally vibrant and diverse.

My favorite place to chill locally is . . .

Coffee shops (Plate 21, The Flying Joe, Maddie and Bella) by day, The Attic [on Adams] by night!

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . .

I love spending time at the Metroparks but I also really like the Owens Corning Nature Walk. I did the You Are Here public art project and that was my assigned space. I spent time there, got familiar with the sites and sounds, collected fallen prairie grass and made a weaving out of it with embroidery floss. Now every time I go back there it’s like I’m visiting an old friend.

When I’m not working hard, I can always be found at . . .

My house on the back deck relaxing with my three dogs.

Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

In 2015 I was in a show at Siena Heights University with a group of artists where we all made work in response to the Arcade Fire song, “The Sprawl II.” That whole show in a sense was one big collaboration. Each piece played off of the others to create one experience inspired by the song. I loved the way it all came together.

Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

Miranda July. I feel we would understand each other.

Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without.

My Richard Brautigan book with his collection of poetry titled "The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster," and his short story "In Watermelon Sugar." He can turn 5 minutes of nothingness into absolute wonderment. It is equally familiar and a comfort to me as it is inspiring.

3 words that best describe me or my work are . . .

Open. Introspective. Tension (literally and figuratively).

Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks.

Regina Spektor - Begin to Hope

Regina Spektor - Far

Tallest Man on Earth - Shallow Grave

Avett Brothers - True Sadness

Avett Brothers - The Carpenter

My biggest vice is . . .

Espresso/iced pour-overs/good coffee.

I’d like to see __________ in Toledo.

More vegan food!

The last lyric that moved me was . . .

These aren’t the last lyrics that moved me, but I always find myself going back to them. This whole song is amazing.

“People are just people

They shouldn't make you nervous

The world is everlasting

It's coming and it's going”

   — Regina Spektor, "Ghost of Corporate Future"

I want my last meal to be _______________.

Thai food. Specifically pad thai with tofu, no egg, and extra peanuts from Bangkok Kitchen. And maybe throw in some white wine to put me in a good mood before I go.


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