Interview With the Artist: Taylor Shannon
Taylor Shannon is a visual artist and model based out of Detroit, Mi. She recently released an art film starring herself titled "Rebirth". After viewing the project we caught up with Taylor to get some answers to the questions brought up in the video and to find out a little more about her creative process. Watch "Rebirth" below and continue reading for the full interview.
We absolutely loved your recent Rebirth video shoot, it was so beautiful and visually captivating!
- (Taylor) Thank you very much! :)
What sort of feelings or response were you trying to evoke from the viewer?
- In the beginning of this idea, I was focused on conveying the mood from my experiences in the past three years that would put viewers in that dark space I was in. However, I've learned I am not one to stay stuck, so I shifted the perspective of the video to reflect the emergence from that as well.
What emotions did you experience while working on the project?
- When I first thought of the concept for the project, it was more of a fantasy I revisited every chance I got. It was how I viewed myself internally, but with depression you can feel very trapped inside your own body. When I first threw the idea out, there was a lot of anxiety, a lot of shuffling of settings, shoots, and I was wondering if I bit off more than I could chew as far what it meant to be this random girl with a random idea in the eyes of others. I was anxious to extricate this vision I knew was rattling around somewhere in the midst of everything else. Power and control was a strong motif in the video because I became unsatisfied with the lack of direction and lack of control that came with being a model over time. I was becoming grossly underwhelmed. I realized with the skills I've gained as an artist in the past 6 years and the strengths I have in modeling, I don't have to settle for that. After investing so much of myself in this project, knowing I was the boss of everything I had done left me feeling very whole.
There’s a clear ascension in the video, what does that represent to you? and where does the ending leave us?
- The ascension in the video represents the trajectory of my growth as a person, model, it's the climax that represents me claiming who I am as an artist and as a model. The ending of the video is actually the beginning of my journey as an artist/model who is creating differently now. The ending leaves the viewers with the sense that I am in control, and everything created afterwards will be birthed from my scope. There are definitely more shoots coming because this is what I plan on doing the rest of my life.
Do you believe the intersectionality of your own identity plays a role in your vantage point as an artist?
- Whew. I definitely believe so. As I'm getting older I feel the pangs of being female daily. There are things as young girls we are never warned about. With racial tensions being restrung and re-evaluated I find myself fighting for my identity as a black woman more than ever. My vantage point as an artist has always been from a stance where I draw the viewer inside of my world, and where I shift the attention to my perspective. I want to always make sure what I create is sharp and direct, unquestionable in what it is, much like how I carry myself. There is so much power in being a black woman, I want to make sure to exude that power in everything I do.
What do you as an artist stand for?
- I stand for reflecting yourself to your truest ability. However, I don't mean a self idolization where ones pride is forced upon others and the self is forced upon a God-like pedestal. I stand for supporting things that dont fight who you are as a person. Running towards the talents that come naturally to yourself and cultivating them. Remaining firm and unapologetic in what makes you happy, what you like, and the meanings behind what you create. I hate when things are done with no purpose, and just imitate whatever the current coolest thing is. The current coolest thing always changes. It's why I want to be sure that in whatever I make, its classic and coming from a true place that can stand alone.
Tell us a little about your collaborator on the project.
- My collaborator is Donavan Glover, an awesome Director/ Photographer. He's actually someone I've wanted to work with for a long time. He's done some pretty great visual work for Detroit musicians and artists over the years, and he's traveled to L.A. and smaller countries to shoot some pretty amazing stuff. He has a very clean quality to the shoots he does, and I wanted to make sure I worked with someone who was centered, and an art oriented person due to my concept being so personal and adventurous, but I wanted my shoot to have an image that was sharp and professional. I really felt lucky working with him, it was definitely a part of this whole vision I set for myself.
Final thoughts on the piece?
- I'm so proud of it! Sometimes I avoid looking at it because I cant even believe I actually did it. It's so personal, being part of an internal dialogue people on the outside are curious to hear. It represents the culmination of a lot of past experiences and announces that I'm still out here. I like having a token that represents the difference in myself and my work versus my peers. It'll be special to me forever.
How can people find you?
- Ha! My website, tayshann.com will be up the first week of October. It will have more about my artist background, along with my portfolio from over the years. It will prominently feature my current work. My instagram is @xtayshannx for updates.