unpredictability are classic subject matter of the Romantics. But
then we notice hints of compassion, and in some photographs
downright humor and touches of playfulness. It is in those
glimpses where we see Shawn. Or maybe that’s where the artist
wants us to insert ourselves, at the intersection of nature’s power
and destruction, and the vulnerability of creation and existence.”
For Heavens the artist describes, “I typically photograph skies,
stitch them together, do some more post production work, and
then have it printed to use as a theatrical backdrop.” Yet unlike
theater, it is the inaudibility of these images, bearing the weight
of a lonely planet, that makes them implicit in their vernacular.
Borrowing from poetry and theological principles, with a
keen grasp of art history and ancient philosophy, his works are
metaphorical. In his own words, “Philosophy and psychology
wrestle in this otherworldly space where fact and fiction meld
in the shadow of credible photography.” Like an echo, his work
resonates in these otherworldly landscapes.
“Shawn’s work has a quiet maturity and grace that belies
his youth. In an age where work usually screams for attention,
Shawn’s quietly waits for you to approach it. He is picking up on
themes explored by photographers from the pictorialists to the
sublime and the simple elegance of Uta Barth,” lauded Dallas
artist Ted Kincaid remarks.
His next series will be an extension of Earths titled Ascension.
“It is informed by classical poetry such as Edgar Allen Poe,
mathematics such as the design based on Fibonacci sequences,
medieval art such as Hieronymus Bosch, and ancient philosophy
such as Plato, to name a few,” Saumell illustrates.
And while many of the artist’s pieces are in permanent
collections like the Boston Public Library, the Limner Gallery,
Hudson, New York, Shah Alam Gallery in Malaysia, the New
Mexico Arts, Art In Public Places 2013-2014 Purchase Initiative
acquired Auspices this year, Saumell is burning his own work
for The Phoinix Project, an ongoing sculpture series. “ This is not
an act of destruction through consumption of fire, but rather
a reconstruction, a re-composition,” he explains. Instead he
brings “something into existence from something that had
already existed, material-wise. In this case, taking a specific and
often unique two-dimensional photograph and transforming
it into a three-dimensional carbon sculpture [ash],” which he
then transfers to a new permanent home in a glass bottle. “In
the process, the image has completely transformed, the space
it occupies has transformed, its form has transformed, and the
material has chemically transformed.”
“Shawn’s work doesn’t quite fit into the contemporary art
world, and that is the exact strength of it,” concludes Kincaid.
Shawn Saumell, Conveyance, 2012, photography, archival pigment print on 310gsm Hahnemühle William Turner Fine Art Paper, 88 x 32 in., edition of 5
Shawn Saumell, Lush, 2012, photography, archival pigment print on 308gsm Hahnemühle Photo Rag Fine Art Pape 50x25 in. edition of 5