Getting to Know: Shenna Vaughn the Artist Behind Soulful Funk on Canvas

Shenna Vaughn is the artist behind what she describes as ‘Soulful Funk on Canvas’. Vaughn’s intuitive abstract paintings tell subconscious narratives of the deep stories of the soul. Her use of warm colors sets the stage for the expression of the personal thoughts that we all confront. Her work invites the audience to enter a personal conversation of reflection and confession. While these subjects are introduced through her particular use of pigments and textures, the symbolism used uninhibitedly exposes vulnerability.

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BELLA had the pleasure of connecting with Queens based artist Shenna Vaughn and learn more of what drives her creativity…

1.How did you start your business?

I always had a love for art. I remember whenever I was asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, I would always say, “An artist, of course!” However, my dream at the time wasn’t considered a realistic future which then took me off track.

As I became older, I began to do other things. Circumstances occurred, responsibilities kicked in, and I found myself allowing the masses to tell me what I should be doing along with the fear of being judged. During this time I was miserable, angry and couldn’t even figure out why. I was a closet painter and no one knew I even had this gift. Then one day one of my dearest friends, Leanna, cared enough and introduced me to a transformational workshop. There I was able to find my path again. From that day forward I picked up my brush and never looked back. I started to honor my wants and needs. I decided to be the woman that I didn’t see growing up – painting not only my story but many others with the hope of inspiring others not to give up on their dream. 

2. What has been your favorite creation to date?

I don’t have a favorite painting as of yet; I just love them all. Some have a bit more meaning to me. For example, I have a painting titled “Dream” which is a testimonial for me coming to terms with my very own dream verses listening to what everyone is telling you what you should or shouldn’t be doing. This is a challenge we all face when we are following our dreams.

3. Beauty Must Haves…

Beauty must haves for me are Ponds Nourishing Moisturizer. I love it! I have been using it for years and it’s the only thing I put on my face. It’s light not to greasy or heavy. For my all natural hair, I must have Miss Jessie’s – any of the products. I love them all! However, I do use a lot of the Curly Pudding and Creme of Nature with Argan Oil Twirling Custard. Lastly, gotta have my essential oils. 

4. Beauty is…

Beauty is unconditionally and unapologetically loving all of you – the imperfections, the flaws, what’s great and not so great. Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and hues.

5. I am Happiest when…

I am Happiest when I am just being free to be me with many, many reasons to create, laugh, love and smile – especially when I am with my family and friends.

Shenna’s use of symbols also acts as both a stabilizing balance and an ingenious hint towards her abstraction. Figures are represented by bold geometrics and hard lines, forcing the content driven work to command our attention. Yet despite the power of this technique, in reality it is only the means to an end. Shenna’s introspective work effectively acts as a reminder that it is important to listen to the story of the self. Shenna’s work has been included in the following:

National group exhibitions:

  • Nassau County Controller (March 2016)
  • Rush Arts Gallery (November 2015, November 2013, October 2012)
  • Skylight Gallery (September 2015, January 2014)
  • Harlem School for the Arts (April 2015)
  • William P. Miller Gallery (March 2015)
  • National Black Theatre (February 2015)
  • Holiday House NYC (December 2014)
  • Artmarket Hamptons (August 2014)
  • Jamaica Cultural Arts and learning (August 2014)
  • Prizm Art Fair (December 2013)
  • Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (December 2013)
  • The Baobab Cultural Center (August 2013)
  • Art Prize (September 2013)
  • Gallery Guichard (August 2013, August 2012,  May 2012)
  • African American Museum of Dallas Texas (April 2013)
  • Jamaica Performing Arts Center (February 2013)
  • The WAH Center (October 2012)
  • Miami Scope Art Basel (December 2011)
  • Agora Gallery (May 2011)
  • Hudson Guild Gallery (September 2008)

International group exhibitions:

  • CAFA- Barbados (March 2016, March 2015, March 2014)
  • Agora Gallery (February 2011)
  • Caelum Gallery (July 2010)  

Solo Shows:

  • Billie’s Black (December 2015)
  • Jamaica Performing Arts Center (February 2014)
  • Le Grand Dakar (January 2011)
  • Cape Liberty Gallery (July 2008)

Competitions:

  • Annual Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series in conjunction with Rush Arts Gallery
    • Winner in (December 2011)
    • New York Finalist in (November 2015, November 2013, and October 2012)  

Public Display:

  • Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage (March 2014 & 2013)
  • Government Social Security Building  (February 2014 & 2015)
  • Resorts World Casino  (February 2014)

Publications (Paper and Online)

  • Juicy Highlights (February 2016)
  • Model Citizen Magazine  (February 2016)
  • Brooklyn Reader (January 2014)
  • PrizmArt Catalog (December 2014)
  • Communities of Color newspaper (March 2013)
  • Artisan Series (December 2011)
  • Art Spectrum (May 2011)
  • Queens Chronicle newspaper (January 2011)
  • Dynamically Active Movement Magazine (February 2010)

Commissions/ Film:

  • The Poets (April 2016)
  • Seven Angels Theatre  (October 2010)   
  • Delusions of Guinevere (November 2014)
  • Night Catches Us (2009)

Shenna’s work is privately collected by many including Mara Schiavocampo, Tommy Porter and Josh Powell NBA just to name a few. Learn more here!

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