The Visit (detail)
Ajabu na nyuki
Shanna Strauss is a queer, Tanzanian-American-Canadian mixed media artist. She grew up in Tanzania and later moved to the United States, then Canada where she lived for 12 years. Her experience of living in and navigating multiple geographical spaces, cultures, languages and histories has greatly informed her practice. Shanna’s work explores oral tradition, family legacy, ancestral memory and spirituality in African diasporic traditions, paying homage to the women in her family and communities she is connected to. Working predominantly with found wood, she creates assemblages using a variety of techniques including photo-transfer, painting, wood burning, wood carving and collage. Beads, fabric and other materials from her homeland, Tanzania, are integrated into her pieces, along with symbols and patterns that carry spiritual and cultural significance.
Public art and community engagement are also part of her practice. Her commitment to radical social transformation has inspired the creation of collaborative projects and public murals that center the experiences and stories of BIPOC individuals and communities. Her public artworks can be seen in Montreal, Tucson, San Francisco, El Cerrito and Sacramento.
In 2020 Shanna was awarded the Prix Powerhouse from La Centrale Galerie in Montreal and the Fellowship Award from Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, California. She recently moved to Oakland California, where she is expanding her art practice and working on various collaborative projects.