When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
"I don't know that I ever made that decision. If someone out there wants to offer me a job with a good salary, I'd be happy to make a decision one way or the other."
How did you make the decision to pursue a career in art?
"I was finishing a Masters in Comparative Literature, with the idea of going on to a PhD and becoming a professor, when I decided to start painting full-time. I had finished the course work, and the thesis only lacked a concluding chapter, but I just decided to stop. One of my professors was nice enough to lay out the truth about academia—the hundreds of applicants for every job and the low pay, at least in the Humanities, if you were lucky enough to get a position. I figured if things were going to be that tough, I might as well try to make it as an artist. The way academia seems to be going I don't regret leaving it."
What are you known for?
"Lately, I've been working on large-scale, site-specific installation of drawings that play around with the nature of an artwork. I left one partly unfinished and let the patrons fill in the blanks. In another, a 90 ft. x 5 ft. drawing at Finch Lane, we sold the drawing by the foot. I let people chop it up into whatever portions they wanted. Some of the leftovers are hanging at the Leonardo this week."
What are you showcasing at the Leonardo, and why should people check it out?
"For the Leonardo, I'm working on what I'm calling "work without end." It's a large scale drawing, 15 ft. x 9 ft, that splits and divides and goes off in multiple directions. I'll layer paper, then take a section off to start a new drawing. Then that drawing will be layered and give birth to other drawings. They should come check it out because it's rather hard to explain."
Do you ever do commissioned work? How can people get in touch with you?
"Generally no, though I'm always willing to talk to people."
To see more of Shawn's work and to read his bio, check out shawnrossiter.com.
"The Lab" is open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Leonardo is located at 209 E. 500 South in Salt Lake City.
Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for youth (6-17), and free for children five and under. Check their theleonardo.org for more info about artists and family discounts.