Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 13th 2015 Contents | PROFILES |
By Roslyn Carrington
WITH HER PORCELAIN SKIN, hazel eyes and wispy hair, Shannon Alonzo doesn't look
anything like her paintings. The first word to cross my mind is "pre-Raphaelite." Of course,
given that my knowledge of classical art is close to zilch, I could be dead wrong, but you
know what I mean. By contrast, her paintings are arresting, even stark, heavy on the sepias
and blues. The eyes of her subjects draw you in, and it becomes a task to tear yourself away.
Shannon has just completed an exhibition of her paintings and collages, called Smoke and Sun-
shine, which ran from the 25th to the 28th of August at the Big Black Box studio in Woodbrook.
"I love the history that place holds, its artistic community. What 3canal and their team are doing there
to support artistic endeavours is a wonderful thing. It's my first big solo project," she says. Judging from
the response of patrons, it will be the first of many. The name of the exhibition is an exploration of Trinbag-
onian identity, the contrasting vibrancy and melancholy that characterise us. Her background is in fashion de-
sign and marketing, with a degree from the London College of Fashion. "It was great to be in a big city that is so
driven by an artistic community. I was exposed to many other artistic elements, having all these amazing gal-
leries around me." She remembers being influenced by the work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, which was ex-
hibited at the Tate Modern. "I was blown away by the way they curated her work, and the ideas she was able to
express through visual art. Incredible! For the first time I thought I wanted to move in the direction of fine art."
Despite her love for fashion design, she felt she wasn't fully expressing her creative self until she expanded her reach. "I
started to work on a portfolio that was fine-art focused, and that's how the exhibition began." She has also become in-
volved in costuming, both for the road and the stage. "I've worked quite a lot with Meiling; she has been a wonderful men-
tor. I'd love to continue to work with her and others in the industry; there is a wealth of talent there." As she explains, the
fashion industry in T&T is quite small, and you only need to take a small step to cross over into costuming. "Carnival art is a
huge part of our heritage." With Meiling, she has produced costumes for 3canal, whom she speaks about with genuine love
and respect. "It was a wonderful experience; they are a great group of people, bursting with creative energy." This
experience also informed her fine art. "I got to explore the concept of identity and adornment. Even
though that's not literally costuming, it does speak to that area of my background."
She focuses on texture, using media that aren't necessarily traditional, and incorporating
everyday items (like cutlery and fruit) to provide adornment for her subjects. "People really
responded well to that." Shannon has been accepted by the Chelsea College of Art and
Design to pursue her Masters' Degree, and is itching to return to London. "Education is
a wonderful tool. If you're able to pursue it further, I think that's great. The more
knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to be the best you can be in your
field." She is raising the funds needed to attend, and to this end, she accepts com-
missions for her fine art pieces, and pursues production design for local films and
"Production design deals with the overall aesthetic of the piece," she explains.
"You work with the director and production team to come up with the colour
stories, the set design, the props. You work with the wardrobe designer to make
sure what they produce is cohesive with what the set looks like, and so on."
She's also open to the idea of doing production design for theatre. "It's big!" she
says enthusiastically. "It's theatre, and that tends to be elaborate. I'm definitely
open to exploring that." As I ask her about her greatest supporters, I am shocked
by the emotion that floods her face. Her voice begins to quiver. "I always knew I
had incredible family and friends, but going through the process of putting to-
gether an exhibition, I was humbled. There were moments when I was almost
brought to tears by how generous everyone was with their time, willing to help me
pursue my dream. I wouldn't have been able to do any of this without them."
Apart from bespoke work, she also has a body of paintings and collages
available for viewing. Her portfolio can be viewed at shanshe.portfoliobox.io.
For commissions and other enquiries, contact Shannon Alonzo at
firstname.lastname@example.org, or find her on Instagram at @shanalonzo.
September 13, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
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