As the Featured Artist, my first guest to be interviewed on my blog, is a Mixed Media Artist, Shanea Strachan, a true Bahamian, and an inspiring young woman. I have had the pleasure of knowing this young and energetic lady in person and I’m honored to showcase her on this blog as the very first guest. Shanea is the author of Life Doesn’t JUST Go On—A Memoir, ‘A journey on finding the faith to forgive and the strength to move forward after tragedy.’ The 22 year old young photographer recently won the International Student Voice Magazine’s Summer Photo Contest in which she represented a self-portrait. Shanea currently resides in New Mexico, USA.
Dhanu : Give us a brief insight to yourself and your work.
Shanea: Well, my name is Shanea I recently graduated with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Media Arts from New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico. I am a 22 year old Artist. Media Artist. My work range from Photography, to Writing, to Filmmaking and Design just to name a few. With my work I always try to empower and challenge social norms, I also like working on projects that are for causes and can raise awareness about social issues.
Dhanu : As a kid, was there a specific career you wished to pursue?
Shanea: I wanted to pursue Acting. The idea of experiencing different situations and being different people fascinated me.
Dhanu : And are you happy about the path that you’ve chosen so far?
Shanea: I am very happy about the path of pursuing the Arts. I enjoy every thing about being an Artist, the freedom of creativity, of expression, the freedom to provoke change and to challenge others; I couldn’t imagine doing something else. Well maybe Teaching or Counseling…. that will probably come later down in life.
Dhanu : Shanea, tell us about your favorite memory of your childhood.
Shanea: My favorite childhood memory would have to be the summers and weekends I spent in High Rock at my grandmother’s house as a child. She lived on this house that was on a hill and across the road was the beach. I just remember the freedom and safety of being a child and me and my cousins, playing on the bay until night, catching solider crabs, picking sea grapes, cocoa plums and eating dili, it’s always nice to think about those times.
Dhanu : That sounds lovely. What really inspired you to be a media artist?
Shanea: I think the art of inspiring and challenging people through Film. My inspiration came in High School, there was a huge teenage pregnancy issue arising and I remember gathering a group of my friends and creating this short film using a camcorder to raise awareness on the issue.
Dhanu : What are the messages that you want to convey through your media productions to the society?
Shanea: The message would depend on the issue that I’m tackling. But generally I want to evoke emotion, to challenge and promote change.
Dhanu : Do you have a specific audience?
Shanea: No I don’t, I believe art can reach people of all ages and walks of life.
Dhanu : As a woman who has a passion for media arts, are there any specific topics/issues in the society that you like to work in the future besides teen pregnancy?
Shanea: Yes, I definitely want to challenge the issue on the standard of beauty and the picture that society has painted as beauty meaning being physically perfect and flawless, in fact I’m actually working on a photo project called I Am: and I will be meeting people and taking portraits of them placing the phrase I Am: and adjectives that describe who these people are. Beautifying real, flawed people. That’s the issue I’m most passionate about at the moment, but there will definitely be more. I am also passionate about working on awareness months, doing videos or PSAs depending on which awareness month it is.
Dhanu : Chuck Close said “inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work”. What is your feeling on inspiration or how that comes about?
Shanea: Great quote, my feeling is that inspiration is for everyone. Anyone can be inspired. I am inspired the moment I wake up, seeing the sun rise through my window, hearing the sound of the birds, the cold morning air, the wet grass all of these things inspire me. The beauty of nature and life, I am inspired most when I am in an open space where I can see all things around me. Then inspiration comes to me at the weirdest time, in the shower or walking down the street I get these spurts of inspiration. I believe that once your mind is open to inspiration, you can become inspired.
Dhanu : Beautifully said, Shanea. What is the biggest challenge of being a media artist?
Shanea: Not owning personal equipment (laughs), that’s the only challenge I really can think of because equipment for Media Artist is our tool, if you think of a Constructor he can’t build his house without his tools as a Media Artist we can create art without our equipment.
Dhanu : What art do you most identify with or enjoy doing more?
Shanea: That’s a toughie because my degree is in Filmmaking but I’ve grown to LOVE Photography, the beauty of capturing a moment in still and create memories is just wonderful. I’d have to say both though, both Photography and Filmmaking, more so the writing and acting aspect of Film.
Dhanu : Who would you like to work with, one on one, in the Film-making industry?
Shanea: Tyler Perry, he’s always been a big inspiration.
Dhanu : Are there any Film-makers or screen writers or well-known artists except Tyler Perry who have been a big inspiration to you or had a significant impact on you?
Shanea: Artists… Hmmm. I would have to say Spanish Artist Yolanda Dominguez. I learned about her work a few months ago while in school and had the privilege meeting her and working with her and seeing her performance art and actions. A very powerful Artist and wonderful person, learning about a different approach of art has definitely impacted and inspired me and I would hope to get into performance art as well one day.
Dhanu : Tell us a little about your family.
Shanea: I was raised by mother, a hard working and strong woman. Through my mom I have a younger sister who is 7 years younger than I am. My grandmother is still alive and she’s very close to us and I have 5 aunts and 3 uncles on my mother’s side and lots of cousins as you can imagine. I also have 2 older brothers and 2 older sisters from my dad’s side, 3 nephews and a niece and my father is deceased. So this is my immediate family.
Dhanu : Let’s talk about your writing. What inspired you to write your first book, Life Doesn’t JUST Go On?
Shanea: Inspiration for writing the book came while grieving the death of my father. I found a letter that I wrote to him one month before his unexpected passing and the letter inspired me to write the book.
Dhanu : What were the challenges you faced in getting your first book published?
Shanea: I struggled with content mostly, how much of my story I wanted to share and just the overall revising of the book, making sure that everything flowed nicely and that there wasn’t any spelling or grammatical errors.
Dhanu : Do you have a favorite author? If so what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Shanea: At the moment I would say Rhonda Byrne, she’s the author of the book ‘The Secret’ and what really strike me about her work and this book specifically is her passion for sharing knowledge that can help everyone, I thought that was pretty cool and I admire that.
Dhanu : Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Shanea: I would say have someone read your work before sending to a publisher; a second pair of eyes is always good because after reading something over and over we tend to over look things.
Dhanu : As a Media Artist and a Published Author, what’s your opinion about using the right tools of technology and social media to reach people? How do you take the advantage of the social media platforms and/or technology in your projects?
Shanea: Social Media would have to be my biggest platform of reaching people and I guess the technology I use most when it comes to that is my cell phone because it gives me easy and frequent accessibility so I definitely take advantage of that. I use Social Media most when it comes to reaching people: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, the web and YouTube. The virtual world is amazing and I love that people worldwide can be reached through the virtual world.
Dhanu : What’s your plan for the next 5 years?
Shanea: Wow, that’s something to think about. The next 5 years I would say,—well, year by year—this year I plan on working and gaining experience in my career field while also working on personal and Freelance Projects, next year I have plans of moving to Spain for a year and learning Spanish, then I’ll make my way back to United States and continue to pursue Media, Acting, maybe Higher Education going for my Masters and settling down and starting a family.
Dhanu : What is your message for young women?
Shanea: Self love is the most important love of all. Once you love yourself you can live to your fullest potential. You can pursue all of your dreams and goals; the most important validation from anyone in your life comes from you. Once you have high self esteem and high self confidence, the world is yours.
Dhanu : That’s a very powerful and an inspiring message for every one. Very well said, Shanea. Well, to wrap up the questions, the next few questions asked will be random—and, fun—questions.
Dhanu : Do you collect anything, coins, stamps, rings, books?
Shanea: I love collecting key chains. Cool, unique, traditional… key chains.
Dhanu : NY, Sydney, London, Paris. Which city would you pick to live and why?
Shanea: That’s a tough one, I would probably go with London because it’s very cultured and it’s in Europe so visiting places that I love like Paris, Scotland, Germany or Spain would not be a problem.
Dhanu : Favorite accent?
Shanea: Spanish accents. *melts*
Dhanu : Favorite pizza topping?
Shanea: Veggie Lovers, onions, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes… the works.
Dhanu : If you could pick a well-known celebrity (musician/actor/band member/film maker…etc) as your husband, who would you pick?
Shanea: Actor Tahj Mowry, he’s been my celebrity crush since childhood.
Dhanu : Nice! Name 3 things you wouldn’t leave home without?
Shanea: My cell phone, my wallet and chewing gum.
Dhanu : Name one TV show that you’d watch over and over again.
Shanea: Family Guy
Dhanu : Any pet peeves?
Shanea: Tardiness, inconsistent people, canceling plans or arrangements without notice and when people sneeze or cough without covering up
Dhanu : Scuba diving or bungee jumping?
Shanea: I’d have to go with bungee jumping, maybe scuba diving when I learn how to swim!
(All images and content used in the article are subject to copyright)
Want more inspiration? Help me to find aspiring authors, artists or individuals with an inspiriting story behind them. Share your thoughts through the comments below and might as well suggest some artist(s) you want me to feature next!