We are delighted to publish our fourth Mobile MasterPeace Interview, Lynette Sheppard is a talented and passionate mobile photographer and artist. As I mentioned in our intimate interview with Sheppard, (see here), her work bursts with energy, verve and ardour and there’s a deep rooted vivacity that will stay with you, long after you have had your fill. Enjoy!
All images ©Lynette Sheppard
If you could choose to keep only one work of your own art, what would it be and why?
I think it was Robert Frost who answered when asked what was his favorite poem – “The one I’ve just written or the one someone has just complimented.” I get that. I am always enamored with my latest work. On any given day (or hour), the one work I’d keep would be different. So in the interest of finishing this interview, I pick this one of the starfish missing one leg. It reminds me that we can still dance ven if we are not perfect.
Is there a cultural experience that changed your perspective of your vision of the world today?
Certainly living in Moloka`i, Hawai`i has changed my view of how people can treat one another and the environment. Reverence for elders and their knowledge, reverence and care for the land, cooperation and connection as higher values than achievement or individual success are core concepts that underly and permeate Hawaiian culture. The world stands to learn a lot from Hawaii.
Whose and what artwork most challenged your way of thinking?
So many artists come to mind: Painters: Georgia O’Keeffe. Mark Rothko. Sculptor Bill Worrell, Photographers Theresa Airey. Jerry Downs. Dewitt Jones (my husband), Jack Fulton. I could go on and on – I love art and artists.
Which artist do you admire and return to the most?
Honestly, it would have to be my husband, Dewitt. He never stops pushing the edges and exploring the outer limits of creativity. It’s wonderful to live with someone who is as committed to the artistic process as I am. We don’t compete but we do inspire each other.
Who do you believe is the most overrated artist and by association, who do you think is the most underrated?
Overrated? I hesitate to demean anyone’s art, there’s room enough for all of us. Sure, there is art that I don’t like, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid or appealing to someone. Enough said about that. Underrated? I believe that art itself is underrated these days. So many artists struggle to make a living and can’t quit their “day job”. Schools cut art before sports when budgets are tight. That seems crazy to me.
Do you agree that mobile art and mobile photography brings peace and if so, why/how?
Yes, I absolutely do. Some art by its very nature makes us feel peace – like photographs of serene landscapes. But it doesn’t stop there. Even when I have created or seen a piece that is illuminating a difficult emotion or topic, the mere fact that it has been put out into the open causes me to feel a profound satisfaction even as it may spur me to action as in the case of art revealing climate chaos or misogyny or any number of distressing subjects.
When you create mobile art do you feel at peace, if so, can you describe your emotions?
Yes, I feel peace for all the reasons above. Though depending on the subject matter, I may start out feeling angry, sad, uplifted, amazed. The action of creating art can be an antidote to hopelessness or helplessness or a celebration of what’s wonderful. Right now, I am working on a series that I call “The Vanishing West”. The subject matter is melancholic, yet I feel peace along with the sadness for all that is lost or leaving. I feel like I’m saying a good-bye while making space for Change, which is inevitable. I want to honor what was while making space for what will be.
It is well regarded that female artists are disadvantaged as the traditional art market is determined by men – do you agree and why? or vice versa.
I know in the past, that was certainly true. Because I am not actively marketing my art right now, I am not sure I know what is happening in the present. I do still know women artists and writers that use initials instead of their names so gender is not an issue. Which makes me think that women might still be at a disadvantage or at least the perception is still true.
Female artists today need encouragement to rise up the ranks, how would you encourage more women to embrace mobile photography and art?
I LOVE teaching mobile photography and apps to women who may not consider themselves artistic. Because of course, we all are! We just need permission and a few skills. Even if a woman can’t take a mobile photography class, I’d say – get a phone, download some apps, and PLAY! You can’t do it wrong and you can’t mess it up. It’s a journey of discovery.
How do you think, can mobile photography and art help save the planet in respect of climate change?
By documenting the beauty that we can fall in love with and by illuminating the losses we face as a world. This is an ongoing preoccupation of mine artistically. Images go directly to the heart and bypass all the mental arguments people have about climate chaos. (I read recently that “climate change” needs a rebranding to better state what we are facing – I liked “Climate Chaos” the best. There’s a sense of urgency to it.) Is it too late? I don’t know, but I do know that we have to fling ourselves into the fray. These days, with the immediacy of social media, we can share our art and perhaps make a contribution. I remember when I was a student at the San Francisco Art Institute – we had a whole weekend devoted to the question “Do artists have a social responsibility?” For me, the answer was a resounding YES.
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