Shawne Major: Schema

Mar 12, 2022 — Jan 21, 2023

Shawne Major uses everyday materials like lace, jewelry, plastic toys, and other baubles to create profoundly meaningful works of art. Her layered abstract compositions are metaphors for how culture and belief systems are constructed by individuals. Major believes each tiny moment during a lifetime accumulates to establish one’s sense of self, but there is also a communal element to what she is doing. This interplay between the self and society operates on compositional and material levels. Her compositions, like culture, are built from a rational, rule-based approach from which improvisation, growth, and even contradictions can emerge. Major’s work feels so evocative because this is how we all live our lives, and her use of repurposed objects speaks directly to this. Think about how the detritus that coalesced to form these works of art had a prior life. They have a story, symbolic value, and fit together to create a sense of complexity on par with trying to quantify abstract concepts like the self or society. 

These concepts are very familiar but ultimately elusive. With this in mind, it is fitting that the exhibition title Schema refers to a plan or theory with an internal logic. This implies that the accumulation of the experiences Major obliquely refers to have an internal logic that is not random and raises philosophical questions about spirituality, institutions, the self, and the agency of people. The Hilliard’s atrium is the perfect location to explore these ideas because Major’s interests are broadly thematic and composed of tiny inter-related pieces. Specifically, the huge volume of space the atrium offers adds another layer to the metaphors at play, by elevating the work above visitors’ heads and revealing how interrelations between individual works can expand on the narratives at play within those that are grouped together. 

Shawne Major’s work resides in the permanent collections of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans Museum of Art, the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Hilliard Art Museum. She earned an MFA from Rutgers University and was also awarded a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Artist Grant, as well as a residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. The venues that have exhibited Major’s work include the Alexandria Museum of Art, Walter Anderson Museum of Art, Scope Art Fair (Irvine Contemporary), Dallas Contemporary, Mobile Museum of Art, Texas Gallery, and many more. 


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