Artist of the Week

Daniel Shea

January 23, 2012

Daniel Shea is an artist living and working in Chicago.  He received his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and is currently pursuing his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Daniel showed with LVL3 at MDW Fair in April 2011.


If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say?  I try to make things as bleak as reality.

What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like?  For my sculptural and installation-based work I tend to use a lot of found materials that suggest a complicated, often mythologized past. I combine these with their available, industrial counter parts, literal or metaphoric. I’m interested in objects that exist between past and present or project dread.

What kinds of things are influencing your work right now?  Lately, Appalachian folklore, Walter Benjamin, Robert Gober, and Malevich.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on?  I’ve been working on a project, tentatively titled Anamnemon, that examines the mythology construction of post-industrial ruin. I’ve been traveling to two locations in Illinois, which are interesting both in their specificity (their relative industrial/historical lineages) in addition to their ability to function as anonymous sites. The work has thus far taken on a reconfiguring of found materials from these sites, collages that deal with the exterior/interior dialectic that ruins produce, and a series of straight photographs made at these sites. The work is really new, so I’m excited about it, but I also have no idea where it’s going.

What is one of the bigger challenges you’re struggling with these days, and how do you see it developing?  I’ve been getting stuck a lot. I have many ideas, they just aren’t rooting themselves in interesting forms. I’ve been staring at the wall, reading books, thinking, etc. It’s fine, but not great.

What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you?  I saw Christian Patterson’s new work, Redheaded Peckerwood, and his handling of various documents combined with original photographs was depressingly good.

What’s your favorite thing about Chicago?  Because there is no substantial art market, there are slew of interesting curatorial and gallery projects run by artists with ambitions outside of the market. Shout outs to LVL3Acre ResidencyDocumentPeregrine ProgramsHornswagglerHarold Arts, Jettison Quarterly, and MDW art fairAnthony Elms wrote this amazing thing about Chicago.

What do you do when you’re not working on art?  I work out at a Crossfit gym which is a cool cult I belong to. I play in a punk band which is part of another great cult worth checking out. I read a lot of books, watch Netflix and smoke weed with my roommate, shit like that.

Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why?,, and, because I’m a 21st century idiot.

Favorite music?  Lately I’ve been make playlists in my studio of early Juicy J/Triple Six Mafia and French black metal. They are both primitive and raw and sound like murder, so it takes me places. I never stop listening to Cro-Mags and Death in June.

What were you like in high school?  Punk, man.

Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work?  I’m in grad school, and we recently had open studios. A guy came into my studio and saw some photos on my wall and asked if I was a photographer, and I said yes. He then spent a moment looking at a sculpture on the floor before pointing to it and saying “that’s not a photograph.” This is a “best reaction” story.