Terri Shinn, a textile artist, has been a full-time artist for over 25 years – she is mostly self-taught, with an occasional class here and there. After being named Snohomish County Artist of the Year in 2005, Terri felt the need for more training to grow as an artist. This year-long search for the right textile school led her to Gail Harker’s Creative Studies Center. For nearly 11 years, she studied color and design elements, while experimenting with new kinds of stitch, multi-media, and construction techniques. Terri Shinn hopes never to quit learning and growing as an artist, but completing the program has allowed me more time to get involved with other arts organizations. She is currently a member of the Northwest Designer Craftsmen, Contemporary Quilters, and the Surface Design Association and a returning board member for the Schack Art Center in Everett.
Terri Shinn has always loved fabric. Starting out by making traditional quilts, like her grandmothers and aunts, and moving onto embroidery and making clothes. Her quilts soon became more and more dimensional, whether it was adding on buttons, watermelon seeds, blown up balloons or ribbons. Terri feels fortunate to have a very supportive husband, Kevin, who encourages her creativity. He has even been a dumpster-diver for some needed metal pieces. Terri work mostly in a small studio in her home, but has been known to take over the kitchen, dining room, living room, and the garage. As an artist, you can never have enough space.
Terri is mostly a fiber artist, but she likes to keep pushing herself, so her art has developed a more mixed-media slant. Texture is her muse. Anytime she can make a piece more tactile, she deems it a success. Terri feels she has been on a nature theme for some time. Roots, rocks and trees are some of her favorites. Her color palette seems to fluctuate from earth tones to primary, depending on her mood. She also tries to add as much detail as possible, which makes her work very time consuming. Most pieces take a few months, but “Methuselah” took 1800 hours to create over several months.
Terri Shinn has lived in Snohomish for 26 years, coming from Anchorage, Alaska in the 90s. When her family moved to Snohomish all those years ago, she thought she would need to travel to Seattle for her art. She was heartened to realize in a very short time what a fabulous art community exists in Snohomish County. In Terri Shinn’s solo show at the Arts Council of Snohomish County (now the Schack) several years ago, she titled the 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 her the artist—and person—she is today.
Terri says, “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.”,
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’ X 10’ 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.
It’s a toss-up on 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 Bristle Cone 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. As a textile artist, it is gratifying that 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.