supported through the SocialArtNetwork//Kickstarter mentoring programme 2019. Selected for inclusion in
The Institute for
Art and Innovation “
Award 2020” book,
(small but) FIERCE
for & by bold children who want to change the world
(& the adults who support them)
inspired by the global
an ongoing, international project disrupting, questioning & having fun with what a children's magazine can / should be.
interview with: Shannon Downey, AKA Basass Cross Stitch, craftivist, USA
Q: Can you describe your work in terms that a 4 year old can
A: I decorate fabric with words and pictures to try to get people to talk
to me about what I’ve written or drawn so together we can make the
world a better place.
Q: How do you come up with your designs because I personally struggle
with coming up with ideas? And how long does it take to think of, plan
and finish your work?
A: I look everywhere for ideas! I watch TV, read the news, walk in
nature, examine my city, go to shows and museums, talk to people, read
books, daydream, exercise, meditate, write. Sometimes I just get a
little seed of an idea and then before I go to sleep I say out loud,
“tonight I will grow this seed” and I just go to sleep thinking of
my tiny idea. When I wake up, I usually have a much bigger idea. Then
I think about my bigger idea throughout the day while I do things. It
always gets even bigger. When I think my idea is ready, I start to
work on it. I usually find that when I start to work on it, it changes
and I let it change. I think it’s important to let your ideas change
and grow on their own. Sometimes, I have an idea and it’s perfect as
it is and I can create my work in just a few minutes! Other times, my
work takes months or even years to go from a seed to a finished piece.
I find the important part is to just be patient with your idea.
Shannon Downey, photograph by Gloria Arava
Art work by Shannon Downey
Q: Do you ever get annoyed with your work?
A: Sometimes I get annoyed with myself when I’m working but I try not to blame my work. If I am struggling with a piece and I start to get annoyed I stop and take a deep breath and try to figure out why it’s not working. Am I using the wrong tool? Am I tired? Do I just not like my idea anymore? I tend to find that when I am most annoyed it is because I am tired and need a rest. So I take a break and most of the time when I come back to my work, I am no longer annoyed.
Q: Who is you favourite Disney princess and which Disney princess do you think is the strongest (in emotion or in physical strength) ?
A: Shuri is my favorite Disney Princess. She is the princess of Wakandain the Black Panther movie. I think she is the strongest both in brains and strength! She is funny and is a brilliant scientist and inventor. She loves and supports her family and defends her country against evildoers.
Q: Why are you an artist?
A: Art helps me express my thoughts and feelings. It helps me focus and identify my feelings. Art helps me make friends and have a positive impact in the world. I am an artist to show others how easy, fun, and healthy it can be to make art. Secretly, I’m trying to trick everyone into becoming an artist. ;)
Q: What is your favourite piece of art that you’ve ever done?
A: I just got back from an art summer camp and I learned so much! I madea 3D flower with a needle and thread (it’s called stumpwork) and I am very proud of it. I was afraid it was going to be too hard to learn but I paid close attention and tried my best, and it is lovely. Right now, it’s my favorite piece of art. I cannot wait to use all of the things I learned to make all sorts of new 3D pieces. I’m sure my“favorite” piece will change as I make more and more stumpworkart.
Q: What can we children do (one thing) that will make the world substantially better for us when we are adults and for our children if we have them?
A: I think the best thing you can do for our world and your future is to learn about yourself. Be curious about your feelings. When you feel angry, frustrated, confused, happy, joyful…stop and think about why.Try to figure out where that feeling lives in your body. Get to know your feelings and like an explorer, investigate what your feelings tell you about what you need. For example, if you are sad, do you need to cry? Would you prefer to be alone or do you need a hug? When you are angry do you tense your muscles and squeeze your face? Do you need to yell? Does making art or writing about why your angry help you relax? I wish all adults had this superpower! You can change the whole world just by learning about yourself and practicing ways to build your superpower.
Q: I think I might like to marry another girl, when did you first think you might marry another woman?
A: I knew I wanted to date girls when I was very young (maybe 9 or 10years old). I knew I wanted marry another woman when I met my fiancé,Pearl. Before I met her, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get married but when she asked me to marry her I knew I wanted to say yes! She is an artist too. She is a glass artist and makes beautiful glasssculptures. We are working on our first piece of art together right now. I hope the person you marry is as smart and brave and curious as you seem to be!