Growing up in the Detroit area, Shaun’s earliest artistic memories begin when she is three years old sitting next to a fireplace coloring with her English mum and watching the skiers on the slopes in what certainly must have been frigid temperatures. The next year, Shaun would join her older sister and brother on the slopes in between the legs of her father, a ski patrolman, arms wrapped around his calves in lieu of the unreachable towrope. Spending many weekends at the small A-frame cottage that her father built in Northern Michigan had her snow skiing in the winter, water skiing in the summer, taking long trail rides through the woods on horseback on her birthday each summer, and falling asleep to the lulling sounds of cows mooing next to acres of rolling corn fields.
Exposure to the arts was frequent as both of her parents and sets of grandparents were involved in arts and crafts, design or community theatre for enjoyment or as a profession. Drawing the human figure, horses and home designs filled much of her free time. Being beyond the skill level of her contemporaries, at 13 she was accepted into an adult continuing education art class at the small private art and design school, College for Creative Studies in downtown Detroit. Upon graduating high school with the goal of becoming an architectural and interior designer, she chose to attend CCS again, this time to study industrial design in order to gain a broader view of design. This education opened up her opportunities, allowing her to work as an architectural designer while incorporating graphic design and display design projects as she began her professional career in 1986. But, it wasn’t until 2012 that art started to play a more serious role in her life. During her schooling for her MFA in art education at the University of Denver, she took an encaustic workshop and fell in love with the ancient medium she had only heard about more than two decades earlier, but had never actually seen. Three months later in her very last master’s class, she had an epiphany: the desire to do her own art seriously was too strong to not take the leap in this short life. Less than twelve months later she had found a suitable studio and quickly began educating herself on the art of encaustic.
Many themes in Shaun Minne’s work reflect her experiences as a child in Michigan and her professional career as a designer, with her aesthetic being shaped by the dichotomy of the gritty landscape of Detroit juxtaposed with the pristine ski slopes and the open country. Her snow series was inspired by the vintage ski posters of France where she spent a ski season in 1989 followed by several months of exploring the ancient cities of Italy and the shores of the Mediterranean. In her words, “I strive to make art that expresses a sense of evolution and the beauty of imperfection within a contemporary framework. I am enthralled with the balance of refinement and rawness, precision and wild abandonment, and the emotional tonalities the combinations evoke. The subtle changes that take place settle comfortably on and below the surface and the patina is much more beautiful than the new and unforgiving.”
I love the physicality of encaustic. The deep, rich aroma of beeswax, the earthiness with its sweet undercurrents soothes your sense of smell. Carving, etching, and mark-making, building up layers, pushing pigment into the wax, polishing, fusing with fire . . . it asks you to be more wholly involved. And, the resulting luminosity with its smooth, sensuous finish begs to be caressed.
Enamored with the visual arts, my involvement doesn't end with encaustics. I love all design; architecture, interiors, graphics, clothing, jewelry, furniture, typography, photography . . . the innumerable ways in which something can be presented to the eye fascinates me. All influence my work and my encaustics are often layered with my drawings and paintings, manipulated photos, stamped numerals & letters, calligraphy and impromptu text.
Shaun has exhibited in several juried art shows both in Colorado and Michigan. She works out of her Boulder, Colorado studio where she creates her art, takes on commissions, and teaches the art of encaustic to both adults and young adults.
playing with fire
encaustic: beeswax, damar resin, pigment all kept molten on a heated palette and applied to a rigid surface :: fused together to come to life with fire.