The term “folk art” brings to mind small-town shops selling crafts, or dusty museums full of relics whose only value is their age. “Outsider art” seems somehow classist, and “vernacular art” seems like a politically correct version of whatever it is you're really trying to say. But finding words to talk about art is rarely the point, is it? It's the seeing that matters.
There's something inherently southern about Shannon Lucy's work, and it's something that has nothing to do with looking "folky." Her work is polished and smart, and hilarious in an insidery kind of way, like a self-effacing New Yorker cartoon. But in each piece there is a hint of damage, a little twinge of otherness that points to being at home in the South, the bastard child of America.
I went to the barn in Sylvan Park where Shannon has set up a makeshift studio space — she's only recently relocated to Nashville from New York, and she's moving to L.A. for the last few months of summer. That transitory life isn't always conducive to making new work, but Shannon was kind enough to have me over to look through the work she's accumulated over the past several years. Some of my favorites: The bodega rack full of plastic bags that all say “Nothing;” the end table with the angled surface that makes it impossible for anything to rest on without sliding off and breaking; the classroom-style handwriting guide that morphs from the letter “T” into a cross.
Check back with Country Life for more about Shannon throughout the month of June.