Cheryl Sim on Beekeeper and Eliza
Shanna Strauss is a Tanzanian-American artist living and lives between Montreal and San Francisco. Much of her work is grounded in homage to her family members and to the work of women of colour and Indigenous women. Beekeeper is a portrait of her Bibi, or grandmother, while Eliza depicts her niece. Strauss brings together materials such as reclaimed wood and Tanzanian textiles into play with painting, wood cut techniques, and photo-transfer to create works that defy any static time-space. Motifs are also employed to impart her family’s stories and history. The motifs of honeycomb in Beekeeper for example, testify to the importance of bees, and the women who keep them, in certain spiritual practices of the African diaspora as well as in the artist’s family.
About Shanna Strauss
Shanna Strauss is a Tanzanian-American artist living and working in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal). She completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the California College of Arts, Oakland, and has exhibited in solo and group shows in Tanzania, Canada, the U.S., and Senegal. Working predominantly on found wood, she combines photo-transfer, painting, wood burning, wood carving, beads, fabric, and other Tanzanian traditional materials. The techniques and mediums in her work are carefully selected for their symbolic and cultural significance. Noteworthy achievements include her work being exhibited in Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; The Black Woman is God: Divine Revolution at SomArts, San Francisco; and When She Rises at SPARC Gallery in Los Angeles. Her work has been featured in documentaries and publications, including CBC Arts, M – Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Magazine, and Museum Magazine.