EK Interview: Lucien Shapiro


Another fantastic artist at 111 Minna for the Empty Kingdom Art Show is Lucien Shapiro!  His pieces, made from found objects, create a cultural commentary revolving around identity, sexuality, rituals and modern symbology.  Check out his interview for a more in depth discussion from the man himself:

Previously featured:
November 2013
August 2012
What is the most interesting found item that you have incorporated into recently?

I would say recently the most interesting and important item I have found is the greatest treasure of my life, Minka Sicklinger. She is incorporated in everything now.


Have you ever broken a bone? What is the worst injury you’ve ever had? If you’ve been injured seriously, how has it changed your self-perception? If not, do you consider yourself lucky? How do you think you think evading injury has affected your worldview?

Never broke a bone, the worst injury ever would probably be the spider bites or the fishing hook in my wrist, the bites left me sick for 2 years, the hook had to get cut and pushed through the other side.  It hurt a lot.  And Hell yes I’m lucky I’ve never broken a bone… and am knocking on wood right now. Evading injury has not really affected my world view, I have experienced things that some people never will, just was lucky enough to walk away from them without a scratch.


What about Masks and Weapons attract you?  Why not coats and shoes?  Your work serves as a statement on waste and cultural artifacts, how would you describe the commentary you are making to someone?  What purpose do your pieces serve such that they are more than the found objects that you make them out of?

Initially masks were the focus and were part of a healing process for me, the weapons were the same.  They helped me show truth behind certain feelings I was having at the time. This later escalated into the now whole experience of the objects and masks. I am using items that are familiar in our culture to work through my own problems and overcome them through rituals. The shapes represent repeated themes and messages as well, for example the bottle caps are circles and this coincides with my belief of everything always coming full circle, you get what you give etc…  The commentary is completely open to interpretation; I never expect what I do to create the same reaction for everyone.  The found objects are just part of my process, the gathering, the repetitive nature of the creation and the attached importance for what each piece is doing for me. The rest is for the viewer to decide.


Why do you disagree with the following statement: How is the creation of a piece of art with no tangible value a valid statement on excess and material waste?

I believe time put into anything is worth more inherently then its original value.


The mask you created for the show at Minna used a great number of condoms, what was the subject matter for the piece?  There has been a great amount of social discussion of sexual violence, from the 1 is 2 Many PSA featuring the President and a host of Hollywood celebrities to the #YesAllWomen moment in the wake of the Elliot Rodger shooting.  Do you think such movements achieve what they aim for? As someone whose work surrounds social consciousness, what do you think must happen for us to address the problems before us?

It is a protection mask and had nothing to do with anything outside of my personal relationships but all the condoms used were from planet parenthood, yes, planet parenthood, there’s a whole planet in there I swear.  I am not sure if the PSA had an affect on the greater population or not, but it seems a majority of people will listen to a celebrity or their president more then a “normal” everyday shmoe. I don’t think anything we can do will change it, I have always hoped some miracle can change what is happening, but unfortunately some people are just bad and have no self-restraints or morals.


What do you think are our greatest challenges are as a society? Why have you chosen the subject matter that is discussed in your work? What does it mean to you? Why are you concerned about these issues instead of others?

As a society our biggest challenges are working together, forming communities, living a healthier, safer lifestyle. My subject matter like many artists is dealing with the times and the world around myself. They are just my interpretations for change and things that I am working through. Hopefully it reaches the viewer in a similar way or helps them to ask questions or concerns on how they want to live their lives. I am concerned with issues that pertain to me, my family, and friends lives because these are the people and the things I see on a daily basis.


What are you working on now?

Currently finishing up a mask for a show at Marcas Contemporary down south. And some limited edition candle holders for a print release to go with my light collector series. The mask for Marcas Contemporary has been fun because I have been stepping out of my comfort zone and really just having fun with it experimenting with new techniques and materials etc, I’m taking another step away from the recent works the mask hanging at Minna, which is a good example of that.


What is your current favorite song?

It can change daily, but today right now I am listening to Long-Winded after the Fact from Edison’s album People are Bad Animals, you can get it on the interwebs…