Looking to fairy tales, myths, and other beloved imaginary landscapes for inspiration, Shawna Gilmore's works offer exuberant expression of the guileless sense of wonder that too often fades after childhood.
March 17, 2016

Shawna Gilmore, Speaking With Bears, 2015. Gilmore's exhibition, Land of Wonder, is on view at the Duluth Art Institute through April 2, 2016.

Former Mn Artists staffer Scott Stulen (now Curator of Audience Experiences and Performance at the Indianapolis Museum of Art), one of the founders of Walker Art Center’s Internet Cat Video Festival, discussed in a T.E.D. Talk some of the lessons he'd learned from the experience, noting the subversive appeal of hosting such an event at a serious institution. Regarding the unconventional juxtaposition of populist videos at a venue of “high“ art, he says, “allows for play; it's about pleasure. And it's about joy, generosity, and sincerity.”

Shawna Gilmore's first solo show at the Duluth Art Institute, Land of Wonder, follows and widens these same possibilities, presenting a melange of imagery drawn from numerous sources: fairy tales, mythologies, elements from Russian folklore, Narnia, and other esoteric realms. The exhibition’s contents are as guileless and expressive as the wall of children's art that precedes the formal exhibition of work on view.

While Minnesotans navigate dirty snow and the late winter whiplash of freezing temperatures and tantalizing warmth, the Duluth Art Institute (DAI) offers Gilmore’s gentle bears, stargazing deer, cherubic boys, geese, and girls in baby-doll dresses inhabiting imagined lands, together staring into a galaxy opened within a glade, or idling in verdant clearings. Tones of vermilion and emerald unify the works made specifically for this show, as viewers navigate a winding presentation of floating walls and cozy nooks. In a sweet curatorial touch, several of the works are placed at a child's eye-level, softening their awe and bringing them face-to-face with Gilmore's surrealistic acrylic paintings, like illustrations from an as yet unwritten book.

Shawna Gilmore, Wings, acrylic on hardboard, 2015.

While visiting these works in the gallery with Gilmore, we sat on pillows on the floor, near a bench-full of fantasy novels and collected Grimm and other tales. She expressed frustration with the overwhelming intellectualism and remoteness of so much contemporary art, saying it’s as if having fun somehow makes one less of an artist worth consideration. Her subtle rejoinder is that it’s okay to laugh; that life is dark enough as it is without a capacity to step back, to play, and to wonder. She says her young son recently asked whether aliens were real. We live in a time when contingent, more nuanced answers about humanity's place in the universe — and our relation to what some deem alien — are dearly needed.

Humor is a commodity that the fine art world typically avoids like a bacillus, unless it's of the smarmy, snark-laden variety you find in Richard Prince's Jokes or Jeff Koons's hyperbolic Puppy. Yet Gilmore's work is full of good-natured laughs, like a personal favorite included in the recent DAI membership show: an image of a boy baiting a bird-watching bear, aptly titled Don't Poke The Bear While He's Bird Watching. Her punningly titled Lapland, from the current exhibition, features the folds of a blouse housing sky and the good earth below with a mother bear and her cubs ambling happily alongside prancing rabbits.

Shawna Gilmore, Adventures in Lapland, acrylic on deep cradled wood panel, 2015. Courtesy of the artist.


The winged girl on a precipice might be a feminine Icarus. The girl sailing in the swan in On the Shores of Swan Lake may be a nod to Leda. But Gilmore’s characters could just as well be referencing Lolita, Alice, or Dorothy. Multiple valencies pile up in the imagery to create an inexplicable, yet wholly quiescent world  —  a peaceable kingdom.


Gilmore's works don't lament innocence as a quality lost, but rather as one allowed to atrophy  — still within our grasp if we can resist a need for certainty and prescribed meaning. Her representations prompt such curious questions as: What would a young girl and a bear have to say to each other (Speaking With Bears)? Or, why might masked pixies be circling a bonfire (Firelfies Around the Flame)? What possibilities might arise if we were to cede to ambiguity and become comfortable with less than absolutely knowing? I appreciate the trust she places in a viewer’s own imaginative capabilities.

Shawna Gilmore, A Boar and Bear Battle in the Big Woods (detail), acrylic on deep cradled wood panel, 2016. 

The content of her work exists in the space of often-told stories and myths. Yes, the winged girl on a precipice might be a feminine Icarus; the girl sailing in the swan in On the Shores of Swan Lake may be a Leda-like figure. Still, Gilmore’s characters could just as well be referencing Lolita, Alice, or Dorothy, albeit obliquely. Multiple valencies pile up in the imagery to create an inexplicable, yet wholly quiescent world  —  a peaceable kingdom. Gilmore reinforces a sense of alternative realities by framing many of her works with apertures: portholes, keyholes, and other devices that create a feeling of the liminal, as if the scenes we're viewing exist at or between thresholds, where passage rites and similarly transformational ventures are at stake.

Shawna's husband, Eddy, seems to share her fantastical, metaphorical sensibilities. Chapters in his recent memoir, The Emancipation of a Buried Man, include “My Bride's Experience Down the Rabbit Hole,” and “There's No Place Like Home.” In an essay from the book, titled “Unrelenting Joy and Peace as Winter Continues,” he remarks on being in the forest (the milieu for so many of Shawna's works) as provoking “awareness, wonder, perception, delight, joy, enthusiasm, enlivened senses, and a reason for living.” It’s no surprise that the forests his partner creates likewise afford very similar experiences.

Shawna Gilmore, Fireflies Around the Lake (detail)2015.

In a timely visit to Duluth last month, the agitprop group Guerrilla Girls advocated for “smaller art”  —  things made for more proximal audiences, intimate friends and loved ones. They posit that such work is even more necessary now, when the business of art has grown as slanted and slyly contrived in its interests as hedge funds and so-called securities. Working within a community of artists and audiences who know one another, who engage each other at the neighborhood co-op, bar, and other day-to-day venues keeps each acutely aware of the others' needs and aspirations. In that vein, Gilmore's is an art that DAI director Annie Dugan describes as clearly rooted somewhere —  work that springs from and meaningfully belongs to a particular place.

Scott Stulen could have been citing work such as Gilmore's when he said:

“When we have these moments of connection, (they're sometimes) met with skepticism instead of embrace... (but) people really desire connection, community, and a place to share. And that's the power of art. It's the power of participation. It can deliver those moments of inspiration, of inquiry, of discovery, and joy — simple, sincere, un-ironic joy.”

That sentiment is as apt a description of Shawna Gilmore's work as any I could possibly convey.

Installation view, Land of Wonder. Photo: Tim White


Related exhibition information:

Land of Wonder: New Work by Shawna Gilmore is on view at the Duluth Art Institute from February 11 through April 2, 2016. See more by the artist on her website:

Tim White is an artist, writer, and recently published his first book of photographs, In and Out of Context, in collaboration with 21 Northland poets, songwriters, and prose artists. He lives in Duluth, Minnesota.



Looking an perfect app for your business Checkout Our Mobile Application Development Services @ Carmatec & RailsCarma #1 Mobile App Development Company #1

For Blogs visit



dan panas, serta mempunyai titik cair tinggi. Bijih logam ditemukan dengan cara  aa



dan panas, serta mempunyai titik cair tinggi. Bijih logam ditemukan dengan cara


SpesifikasiUkurandan diameter nyasesuaidenganaturan BSN gg


Dibawahiniadalahukurandan diameter yang berstandarNasional Indonesia a


Thanks for the best was very useful for me. keep sharing such ideas in the future as well. this was actually what i was looking for,and i am glad to came here!

a10, color switch, roblox, mortal kombat x


Jajaran Polres Sukabumi Kota, Jawa Barat menangkap dua pengusaha konvensi di Parungseah, Kabupaten 

Daftar Harga Plat Kapal Dari Pabrik Ke Distributor

Daftar Harga Plat Bordes Kembang Dari Distributor Pabrik



Sukabumi yang telah menyebarkan kaos berlambang Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI) "Dari tangan kedua

konstruksi baja wf bandung 

jasa konstruksi besi baja



Evolve Vapors - A US based brand which is a best fit for your trendy lifestyle, an organization that is fighting with Tobacco with handful of people educating the youth about Vaping, a company providing a healthy way of living for upcoming generations while making each and every single Smoker a  Non-Smoker.The first brand in the Vaping Industry fulfilling the needs to fight tobacco and smoke Cancer free. Providing the services (Vaping devices, Vaping Liquids and accessories) across the Globe and trying to make the effort of Converting the world a Lung Cancer free World.

Vape India
Vape Pen




Share at:
Obat Gastritis Alami Terbaik @
Obat Kelenjar Getah Bening Di Leher @
Cara Mengobati Sakit Lambung Sebelah Kiri Secara Alami @
Obat Ngilu di Bagian Lutut dan Betis Tradisional @
Cara Mengobati Herpes Di Wajah @
Cara Untuk Sembuhkan Eksim Kering @    


This is my first on this website. I think this article shares an outline regarding the activities and also the role of this foundation. After reading this article I am really impressed on this website
manfaat qnc jelly gamat



listrik dan panas, serta mempunyai titik cair tinggi. Bijih logam ditemukan dengan cara  penambangan yang terdapat dalam keadaan murni atau bercampur dengan unsur-unsur seperti karbon, sulfur, fosfor, silikon, serta kotoran seperti tanah liat, pasir, dan tanah.



This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. :) :)

bloons tower defense 5   super smash flash 2


Let’s keeps out flash games for your child the best time relax: wingsio | slither io | are safe space for kids!



Amazing writing this is from you. I am really and truly excited to study this outstanding publish. You've really satisfied me nowadays. Hopefully you'll keep do so

Funny Gifs



I owe you a treat for sharing this with us.

Thanks a lot for this.



Lineage OS for OnePlus One


Let’s keeps out flash games for your child the best time relax: | happy wheels the game free | | games for kids are safe space for kids!



good to check out the store whenever soon searching for another one. Best Crib Mattress to support the raised and also constantly increasing weight of a young child. nice.


developer at shareit for pc


SHAREit is a free application that gives you a chance to send your substance at lightning speed between gadgets including: photographs, recordings, music, archives, and envelopes. Exchange gigabytes of records from PC to PC in minutes, without links, USB drives or system charges. Need to send the majority of your photographs and recordings from your telephone or tablet to your PC or your PC to your telephone or tablet? It's simple and quick with SHAREit. 

Remote gadgets with SHAREit can naturally locate each other when in range. Exchange HUGE records and recordings in seconds, up to 40 x speedier than Bluetooth. SHAREit permits document imparting to included security and protection, records are spared straightforwardly on your gadgets, not in the cloud. Exchange your records between all Windows, Android, iPhone and iPad gadgets. 


Shareit is one of the famous and amazing file sharing app. It is always annoying and time-consuming process when we talk about share or transfering files from one device to another. You either need to connect your device withthe  wire or cable or you need to do it using Bluetooth which takes a lot of time.



my nickle that's so amazing you're art is just amazing i mean literally amazing!!

shareit for pc


awesome already have one. It is complimentary. Kodi APK Download  respectable remote. You might want to consider nice.



it was good post and thanks for sharing it admin

happy shivratri wishes images quotes for facebook watsapp


you have been pretty good in making this post look delightful to read for the readers.


Do you know, Weetjij is a content website, which provides users with a great platform for gaining knowledge over plethora of verticals. You can be a reader as well as a contributor to the website by writing articles for it.


the multiplayer and action android game with mini militia pro @



great platform for gaining knowledge over plethora of verticals. You can be a reader as well as a contributor to the website by writing articles for it.

official Whatsapp plus  @

IMO for PC @



First of all i am saying that i like your post very much.I am really impressed by the way in which you presented the content and also the structure of the post. Hope you can gave us more posts like this and i really appreciate your hardwork.
<a href="">Happy New Year 2018</a> <a href="">2018 New Year Messages</a> <a href="">Winrar Password Remover</a>



MN Artists