Sensitive to transformation processes, whether it is that of the materials with which she works or those that she experiences in her life, Shanie Tomassini deploys a practice involving sculpture and installation. Her most recent projects evince a quest for harmony that has sometimes earned her an association with the resurgence of New Age in contemporary art. She does not reject this categorization, which corresponds with her lifestyle. For example, incense and tarot cards, which can be found in the works produced at Est-Nord-Est, were already part of her daily routine before she brought them into her studio.
Thanks to a technique that she has carefully developed, Tomassini can mould particles of charcoal, cedar, rosemary, and other plant essences to create objects meant to be consumed by fire. The cell phones and alarm clocks that she reproduces using her technique therefore bear a tension between their industrial design and their organic texture. The bases on which they sit also contribute to this contrast. Moulded intuitively out of clay, their intriguing protuberances, in which we can sometimes discern faces, seem to invite us to take them in our hands. The scent of burning incense adds to the sensory experience of the works.
A second body of work on which Tomassini worked during her residency included four large wooden bas-reliefs (others will follow). They represent the important figures from a tarot reading performed by the artist when she was experiencing a certain malaise. Not so much an attempt to predict the future, reading the cards and sculpting the bas-reliefs encouraged introspection. Making them by hand rather than by machine, as in previous projects, also enabled her to use a natural material that is more respectful of the environment. This creative process falls within a quest for tranquillity, but not everything in it is peaceful: the devil is invited into the series. Notions of threshold, passing, and transition that have been on Tomassini’s mind for a few years are expressed here in all their complexity.
Shanie Tomassini explores the renewable and cyclical experience of objects, places, and ideas. She reflects on how the sacred can be glimpsed through the everyday. In her works, she analyzes the nature of materials, as well as how they evolve in space and time. Her research is embodied in forms that become symbols of poetic emancipation.
Tomassini holds a master’s degree in sculpture from the University of Texas at Austin (2019), from which she received the UMLAUF Prize and a COFA research grant. Her work has been presented in numerous individual exhibitions, including at Centre Clark (Montreal), the UMLAUF Museum (Austin), and CIRCA art actuel (Montreal). She has received funding from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.