Tangle, 2020, Ink and Acrylic Wash on Paper, 7 x 11 inches.
Shankweiler writes of her work, “My work has changed with the world over the past year. I find myself drawn to a meditative mark-making practice of drawing ropes and a playful practice (often including my children) of experimenting with the connection of rope and knot segments in a two-dimensional 'puzzle'. Form and mark-making meet in the work. The ropes are lines themselves but also have a dimensionality built from repetitive texture-building and rule-following. Physically, the ropes are bound by natural laws, but on paper, these laws can be challenged, and the ropes can take on any form.
Ropes are imbued with meanings of their own; they are a tool for security and safety, they are a tool for holding something down against its will, and when connected they take new form and tension through their interaction; safety nets, networks, internets, a metaphorical fabric of society. Ropes can be unions, but they can also enforce boundaries. Knots can secure or be an obstacle to untangle.
The line-work of the individual threads making up each cord, the cords making up a rope, the rope reaching out and looping with another, knotting, tying, to make a form or a net, compounds a physicality to the image and the rope becomes more than itself. The drawings and paintings are not just still-life, but an embrace, hands holding, sustained eye contact. The nets become a community, each knot or loop indicating a human connection that holds a 'net'work of people together. It is the humanity of these connections and the form created by the mark-making that draw me to this work.”
Morgan Thomas Shankweiler splits her studio time between the Philadelphia suburbs and the coast of Maine. She graduated with sociology and studio art majors from Williams College (Massachusetts) and studied Mughal miniature painting with Ajay Sharma in Jaipur, India. Her background in sociology informs her work, which is a study in time, memory, motherhood, and the commonalities of human experience. Shankweiler’s work was most recently featured in the 2020 online archive of AI39 and has been chosen for juried shows in Boston, New York, and the Philadelphia area. Collected here are what she considers “art snacks”; inexpensive drawings and paintings for convenient aesthetic consumption. Take two; they’re small.