What do smoke bombs, spaghetti, sprinklers, plastic and paper have in common? And what about sweat, water drops, humidity and wind?
They are all used by Memphis artist Shea Snow to create one-of-a-kind artworks that will be on display today through Nov. 29 in the Price and Merkle Galleries of the South Arkansas Arts Center, 110 E. Fifth St., El Dorado. Snow will be honored during an artist’s reception from 6 until 8 p.m. Saturday at the arts center for his “Shea Snow’s Solo Show.”
Many of his artworks on display and for sale during November measure seven and a half feet by four and a half feet and are titled “Erudition,” “Let’s Dance,” “Living Life,” “Totality” (created during the recent total eclipse of the sun), “Pick-up Sticks,” “Emancipation,” “Communication” and “Determination.”
Snow said he places large pieces of paper on the ground to allow humidity to “cure” the paper to make it more accessible to retain and enhance colors. Sometimes he places pieces of pasta, leaves and other objects on the paper and then covers the artwork-in-progress with plastic, securing the covering around the edges.
He then lifts edges of the plastic, places colored smoke bombs in various locations on the paper, lights the smoke bombs, while holding the plastic to avoid burning. Sometimes wind wafts between the plastic and paper, producing various shapes and colors. He also uses other types of fireworks to create unique designs on paper.
The El Dorado High School graduate also invents non-traditional instruments and unconventional methods for creating art, “derived from elements that celebrate liberties and activities that express a freedom of life found within them,” Snow said.
He has created artwork using bicycle tracks and watercolor paints, along with charcoal and pencil drawings from some of his favorite watering holes and eateries in Memphis. Snow draws medical pencil illustrations – such as the inside of an ear. His watercolor paintings of ruby-throated hummingbirds will also be on display at the arts center and he has created oil works on metal crosscut saws.
In addition to creating art, he also enjoys cycling, playing music, shooting fireworks and “barbecuing in the backyard with friends.” He sings in a band, “Driftwood Ramblers,” that is currently in rotation at The Hard Rock Cafe on Beale Street in Memphis.
Snow has also created an app that allows him to draw using his harmonica and a projector and he will be demonstrating the process during the artist’s reception Saturday at the arts center.
The artist said he can’t remember a time when he didn’t love creating art pieces and in the seventh grade in El Dorado, he won first place in a statewide art competition for students through 12th grade. He also won a second place award in the following years and attended Memphis College of Art on a scholarship. He later obtained his master’s degree in art.
Currently, Snow works at Inventory Locator Service as a designer/developer, adjunct professor at Christian Brothers University and as a UI/UX online-mentor for Thinkful students.
“I also create freelance work at home, for various clients, and donate all my artistic skills and expertise to a homeless teen shelter out in Colorado, ‘The House: A Safe Place for Western Slope Teens,’” he said.