Creative Guts

Shaina Gates

Episode Summary

In this episode of Creative Guts, co-hosts Laura Harper Lake and Sarah Wrightsman talk with artist Shaina Gates! Shaina’s art is a challenge to describe. Her stunning work took a bit of serendipity. Her experimental photography happened when she was playing with black-and-white film, but she’s not a photographer. In order to truly appreciate the mystery of Shaina’s work, you kind of need to see it for yourself! Her experimentation led her to something a bit unique — we don’t know of any other artist doing what Shaina does. The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation also thought Shaina’s work was pretty cool: Last year Shaina was the recipient of the Piscataqua Region Artist Advancement Grant from the Charitable Foundation. This grant recognizes the important contribution of working artists to the cultural life of the region by providing an annual financial award to promote the artistic growth of visual artists and craftspeople. Shaina is now in the position to share and promote her work as an innovative contribution to the field of experimental photography. Please take a peek at Shaina’s work on the web at and on Instagram at If you’re interested in the Piscataqua Region Artist Advancement grant, head over the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s website at Listen to this episode wherever you listen to podcasts or on our website Be friends with us on Facebook at and Instagram at A special thank you to Art Up Front Street Studios and Gallery in Exeter for providing a space where Creative Guts can record! This episode is sponsored in part by the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts. Thank you to our friends in Rochester for their support of the show. If you love listening, consider making a donation to Creative Guts! Our budget is tiny, so donations of any size make a big difference. Learn more about us and make a tax deductible donation at

Episode Notes

In this episode of Creative Guts, co-hosts Laura Harper Lake and Sarah Wrightsman talk with artist Shaina Gates! Shaina’s art is a challenge to describe. Her stunning work took a bit of serendipity. Her experimental photography happened when she was playing with black-and-white film, but she’s not a photographer. In order to truly appreciate the mystery of Shaina’s work, you kind of need to see it for yourself! Her experimentation led her to something a bit unique — we don’t know of any other artist doing what Shaina does. 

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation also thought Shaina’s work was pretty cool: Last year Shaina was the recipient of the Piscataqua Region Artist Advancement Grant from the Charitable Foundation. This grant recognizes the important contribution of working artists to the cultural life of the region by providing an annual financial award to promote the artistic growth of visual artists and craftspeople. Shaina is now in the position to share and promote her work as an innovative contribution to the field of experimental photography. 

Please take a peek at Shaina’s work on the web at and on Instagram at

If you’re interested in the Piscataqua Region Artist Advancement grant, head over the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s website at

Listen to this episode wherever you listen to podcasts or on our website Be friends with us on Facebook at and Instagram at

A special thank you to Art Up Front Street Studios and Gallery in Exeter for providing a space where Creative Guts can record! This episode is sponsored in part by the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts. Thank you to our friends in Rochester for their support of the show.

If you love listening, consider making a donation to Creative Guts! Our budget is tiny, so donations of any size make a big difference. Learn more about us and make a tax deductible donation at

Episode Transcription



[0:00:00] LHL: I'm Laura Harper Lake.

[0:00:01] SW: And I'm Sarah Wrightsman. 

[0:00:02] LHL & SW: And you're listening to Creative Guts.

[0:00:17] LHL: Hey friends, thanks for tuning in to this episode of Creative Guts.

[0:00:20] SW: On today's episode, we're talking with Shaina Gates. Shaina is an artist whose work is so fascinating, I hardly know how to describe it. Her Instagram bio says, experimental photography, but even that feels insufficient. Shaina is also the 2023 recipient of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation's Piscataqua Region Artist Advancement Grant. 

[0:00:40] LHL: We are beyond excited to talk with Shaina. So let's get right into this episode of Creative Guts with Shaina Gates.


[0:00:51] SW: I'm very excited for this interview. I was telling my husband, like we interview obviously a lot of creatives on Creative Guts. Usually, I have some, like, understanding of what the person does. Like when we're talking to somebody who does like embroidery, I'm like, "Yep, I get that. Done that." If we're talking to somebody who does like printmaking, I'm like, "Yep, okay. I don't really paint, but, like, I sort of understand the concept of painting." I was talking to my husband, and he was like, "Oh, what does she do?" I was like, "I'm not really sure." I was like, "I know that I like a lot of her work, like I really love the pieces." Like the 3D pieces that you had at See Saw Gallery. I was like, "I know that they have to do with film, but they're not photography." So I was like, "I don't really know what to do with that. So do with that what you will." He was like, "Cool. Okay."

[0:01:38] SG: I kind of feel the same way when people ask me.

[0:01:40] SW: Oh, good. This is going to be really fun, then. Well, Shaina, it's really nice to have you on Creative Guts. Thanks for being here.

[0:01:49] LHL: You've been on our list for ages and ages, so it's nice that it's finally come together. and we have lots to talk about with you. So we could just dive right in.

[0:01:58] SW: Yes. You know what's funny is that, the last time we saw you maybe was our Meet 'N Critique, which was like March 13th, 2020. Like five minutes before the whole world shut down. 

[0:02:07] SG: Yep. Yep. Like the last people I saw.

[0:02:10] LHL: That was like the last thing that we did. So it's good to see you again.

[0:02:15] SG: Yes, on the other side.

[0:02:19] SW: Yes. So for the listeners that are not familiar with you or your work, will you introduce yourself and tell us just a little bit about your work as an artist?

[0:02:26] SG: Sure. I'm Shaina Gates. I do experimental photography, and I use mostly expired black and white film. Also, sometimes, black, and white papers. By black and white, I mean, like black and white that you would process in a dark room. But I expose it to extended daylight, or other sources of light in a way that produces color. Then, I process it to make it transparent. So I'm getting color out of black and white film in these sort of geometric folded forms. 

[0:03:04] SW: Yes. Well, it's interesting, because it's like 3D, it's sort of – I wanted to say sculptural, photography, because it's film, but it's not really photography. Do you do photography, point and shoot, with a camera at all?

[0:03:18] SG: Yes. I take film cameras on vacation and stuff, and I have them laying around the house just in case the pet does something cool. But I don't – I don't really think about images and composing images in that way, in, like, a photographer's kind of way. So yes, I think that that's very separate from what I do.

[0:03:40] SW: Right. Right. Where did the sort of experimenting with film come from?

[0:03:45] SG: Well, my background is in painting and drawing. I was making these very realistic paintings, and drawings of folded and crumpled paper forms. I was making a ton of models for them to make the paintings and drawings from. Then, I would photograph, like these folded and crumpled models in, like turning them in light and taking, so I'd have like 20 photographs of each model. Then, I'd have 50 models. So then, I'm sorting through all these images, and kind of like I was just saying, that image composition thing has always felt a little awkward for me. Like I had my taste, and I'm drawn to certain ones, but I don't have a good reason or system for how I'm making choices in that way.

I started using cyanotype, it's an alternative photographic process, where I was able to coat the paper with this photosensitive chemistry, crumple it, fold it, and expose it to the sun. Then, I just had whatever the image was that I planned to then do the drawing from. Then, I didn't have like a thousand photographs to choose from, I just had this one. But once I did that, I realized that this photographic material was doing the work of the drawing already for me. That led me into just researching, and reading, and looking at old photo forums about experimental and alternative photography. Sort of led me to using a black and white paper exposed to the sun to make color images, which is called lumen printing. I thought, like, "Well, can we do this?" Like not knowing very much about photography, I said, "Let's try it on film." Then, I realized, like, whoa, wait a second, there's no information about this. That kind of became an obsession. It's like, the lack of information about how to do it with film.

[0:05:42] LHL: Well, yes. It's just sort of uncharted territory. It's really amazing when you've sort of developed a completely new –

[0:05:50] SG: Yeah, new-ish. I mean, I'm not the first person ever to do it. There's no information about this breadth of color. Yes.

[0:05:57] SW: Yes. I don't know anyone else who does it, and you're definitely a first and possibly last for Creative Guts. I don't know if we'll ever find somebody else who does this. 

[0:06:07] SG: Please let me know if you do.

[0:06:08] SW: Yes.

[0:06:09] LHL: It'd be cool. We will. 

[0:06:10] SW: Yes.

[0:06:11] LHL: We've talked with photographers who have done alternative processes and things like that. But this is – using materials in such a unique way, and you've really just adapted it to what your narrative and story is through these images, these – the very organic looking when they come through. Even though they're geometric, kind of like seeing a quartz rock or something. It has this organic nature, and you're using sunlight to make them come to life. But then, you also need – with some of them, light to view them because of the shadows they're casting. It's just so multilayered, and that's a pun, because there's lots of layers within the creases. I love it.

[0:06:52] SW: I would encourage our listeners to go look at them. The end result is, like, really visually stunning. They sort of almost look like they could be made out of plastic, but kind of not. They kind of remind me of a horseshoe crab, but more geometric, the colors are gorgeous. And the way they interact with sunlight is beautiful. I was staring at them at See Saw, when your art was being shown there. I was like, that's just, like, so ridiculously cool.

[0:07:19] LHL: I'm really curious; after you've gotten this process down, and you've sort of got this direction of how you're making these pieces. Is there lots of trial and error at this point in time for you when making them, or is it sort of like what comes comes?

[0:07:34] SG: In making those folded figures, yes. Then I guess, I'd been working in my painting and drawing. I'd been working through these ideas, is like geometric sort of relationships that can only be expressed through folding, like they can't be measured, or like you can't use ruler and compass to figure them out. It's like folding is the only way, which is a simplified explanation of that. 

I had carried that with me into the work where I'm folding the film or folding the paper. There's a set of constraints that I've set up. Then, I'm just sort of working through different permutations inside of that. Each decision kind of opens up new options for the next fold, but it also closes off other options. Kind of traveling down all these different possible pathways to get to the end. And then, like the material sort of has a limit to how much it wants to or can handle the folds depending on the scale. I guess I'm making this answer longer than it has to be. But what was the question in the first place?

[0:08:51] LHL: The trial and error involved in a single piece, it sounds kind of like – we've talked about this with other art mediums and other creatives on here, whether the art form that you're working with is combative, or you're negotiating with it, if it's like a river you're going down, or it's like something you're chopping against. It feels like it's kind of – by what you're saying, I'm almost thinking it's like a negotiation.

[0:09:14] SG: Yes. Yes. I think negotiation is a good word for what's happening in that work. It leads me, and then I can make a choice, and then it leads me, and I can make a choice.

[0:09:25] LHL: Maybe you've already thought about this, or someone else – or you already are doing this, but have you ever thought about working with someone to make a documentary of your work. Because it is rare that we have a guest on here where it is critical that we really recommend people look at their work. We always say, go experience what this creative is making. But because it is so unique, and original, and so dimensional in so many ways, I am dying to watch you make. Like I want to see your hands at work doing this because it's so – they're romantic and beautiful, and like, it's magic. So maybe you don't, because you don't want to show off the magic making. But, I don't know.

[0:10:07] SW: Yes. Yes. We're going to flip this podcast into a vlog right now.

[0:10:12] SG: Well, it's funny you ask that. I just was asked by – going to be part of an experimental photo festival this summer. They've asked me to, for their promotional materials, they've asked me to make video of myself making the work, which is – I'm procrastinating so hard on. Not because I don't want to show it, but it's just like – how do I – I don't know how. I think the most exciting moment is like, it's folded, and then gets exposed to the sun. And then, once it's transparent, I can see what the colors are. That moment is like, I get to be the first witness to the – yes, it's very exciting.

[0:10:53] LHL: How long do these take from first touch to development in the sun?

[0:10:59] SG: Sometimes the folding part comes together really quickly, like a couple of minutes. But sometimes, it ends up being a little more thoughtful if I feel like – not that it's not thoughtful when they're quick. But it's – like if I feel like I'm – if a form is looking familiar, like maybe I've made this series of choices before. Then, I have to kind of be strategic about, "Okay. What's new? How can I go a different way?" Yes.

Then the exposure is anywhere from like five minutes to a few hours, which is passive. That's like, when you have a recipe, active cooking time and total time are different.

[0:11:45] SW: Are you working with a chemical processing? Is this like a messy process?

[0:11:51] SG: It's not that messy. It's just – if you've worked in a dark room before, there's this – the steps are: developer, stop bath, fixer, and then hypo clear, and then washing in water. I'm just bypassing the developing, and stop, and I'm only fixing. What fixing does in the black and white process, and in my work is it just clears all the extra silver, which is what is the photosensitive part. It just clears the extra silver out of the material, so it can't keep exposing. Then, with film, it also like makes it transparent. Because otherwise, there's a layer on the film that called the anti-halation layer. It prevents light from going through the film, and then bouncing off the back of the camera. Then, like creating a halo. It just – yeah.

[0:12:42] SW: It's so cool.

[0:12:43] LHL: It's so cool.

[0:12:44] SW: It's like the most sort of nitty-gritty I've ever wanted to get.

[0:12:49] SG: You can chop that part off. I won’t be offended. 

[0:12:52] LHL: No, no. We like diving into the deep, because this is just – it's very inspiring to think that there is still a way to crack an originality code. As an artist, I feel like, sometimes, you make just to make. But sometimes, you want to try to break boundaries in a big way or do something really different. Then, you might find out like, "Oh, this was done before." So, there's always going to be different variations of things, but hearing about something that's truly feeling kind of like an invention in a way.

I'm sure other people were sort of related to this, maybe one or two in the world, but it just feels very sparse. Maybe like you're number two or one, I don't know. But it's just – it's very inspiring, and I really, really appreciate that. 

[0:13:42] SG: I wasn't looking to like invent something. I was just following what was curious. Now that I do have this material that is so undocumented, it's been a really interesting – I'm like beholden to it in a good way, but in like, I feel responsible for pushing it, and getting it to be visible. 

[0:14:05] SW: Yes. Yes. Oh my gosh. I 100% get that. I was just thinking to myself, formulating a next question. What happens if you get bored of this, or you want to move on to something else? It feels like you're abandoning something that's so – you're the only person keeping it alive, so to speak. 

[0:14:25] SG: I'm not the only person –

[0:14:26] LHL: Are we gushing a little too much?

[0:14:30] SG: I can't find evidence of this much color. I think what people run into is like, they try one or two types of film, and they're not that exciting color-wise, and then they kind of move on, is what I can tell from the images that I am finding out there in the world. I think about that sometimes, and I'm not bored yet. But I do feel a lot of urgency about getting it documented in a way that feels comprehensive before just bleeding out little tiny bits of information, but really, getting my arms around it,

[0:15:06] LHL: If you had to make a really rough estimate of how many of these sculptures, pieces that you – how many do you think you've made? 

[0:15:15] SG: If I had my computer, it wouldn't be rough. 

[0:15:19] LHL: I would say, it's numbers, right?

[0:15:19] SG: But it's like close to 200.

[0:15:23] SW: Because the highest figure number I see on your website is 164.

[0:15:28] SG: Okay. I think, yes. I made a few more like this fall. I'm sort of petering off the end of that body of work. I think I'm still excited about showing it, but there's just so many of them.

[0:15:40] LHL: Yes. I know, storage must be a consideration because they're not flat. What does your studio look like?

[0:15:51] SG: My studio is kind of small. Beautiful, but it's little. So storage, yes, is a thing. For the first time in my life, I'm starting to think about climate-controlled storage thing, But I feel like, once you do that, you can't go back. But what do I do with all of this stuff?

[0:16:14] SW: Do you sell these? Are they for sale?

[0:16:16] SG: They're for sale.

[0:16:18] SW: I noticed that sometimes you frame them, like at the See Saw Show. They were all sort of framed in these little glass boxes, and they look really visually appealing when they're up on the wall. But I also really liked the ones that are like this one, that are just like – they are on the wall as themselves, and it's very neat.

[0:16:36] SG: That installation at 3S is, I think that in a gallery space, I really like the way they look without the frame. But obviously, to give them a home, I think people are going to be nervous about just having this form open on their wall. 

[0:16:56] LHL: Yep. Yes, that's totally fair. Is the frame like encased on all sides, or just in the front?

[0:17:01] SG: It's all sides. The figure, the film sculpture gets mounted on a panel, and then sort of like a shadow box. 

[0:17:09] LHL: Gotcha. 

[0:17:10] SG: Totally enclosed.

[0:17:12] SW: I know. Then, I really like these ones too –

[0:17:14] LHL: Very architectural.

[0:17:15] SW: Yes, they are. They totally are. Like this one on the projector corner one, very fascinating. We're looking at your website, as we recommend all our listeners do.

[0:17:24] SG: There needs to be a book as well.

[0:17:26] SW: Oh my God, yes. 

[0:17:28] LHL: It really needs to be a book.

[0:17:28] SW: Like a coffee table book.

[0:17:29] LHL: Yes. It needs to be one of those big, chunky art books that they sell at bookstores that don't exist anymore. Like Barnes and Noble, I used to go there, and look at the art section.

[0:17:39] SG: Does Barnes and Noble not exist?

[0:17:40] LHL: No, I'm sure it does. It just feels like it's – they're all like dwindling a little bit. But support your local bookshops, folks.

[0:17:49] SW: Anyways, it's really, really cool. I feel like we've probably asked enough nitty-gritty technical questions.

[0:17:56] LHL: I know, yes. I feel like we're gushing a little too. It's just very – it's exciting. It's exciting.

[0:18:02] SW: It's so neat to see something sort of so unusual, or sort of unique. It's just super-duper cool.

[0:18:11] LHL: And because they're so cool, you were recently awarded a grant.

[0:18:16] SW: So sometimes when our guests come on the podcast, we'll ask a question like, "What would you do if you won the lottery or won a bunch of money? Or how would it change your creative life?" But in your case, you're the 2023, recipient of the Piscataqua Region Artist's Advancement grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. What has that grant meant to you?

[0:18:35] SG: Well, when I got the call, they should have asked me to sit down.

[0:18:41] SW: That's good feedback for Erin.

[0:18:43] SG: Or maybe they did, and I didn't – I just, I didn't sit down. But I – it was – it truly, I couldn't speak.

[0:18:50] LHL: Were you alone when you got the call?

[0:18:51] SG: I was, and no one was home for me to then be excited with. It feels like such an acknowledgement of how much like I am committed to my work to have that recognized. Then, there's so much film that I couldn't access before, like these industrial scale films that I now can work with. I don't know yet what that will mean for me. Because right now, my work is all inches in dimension and –

[0:19:25] SW: How big are we talking?

[0:19:27] SG: The biggest rolls that exist are 54 inches wide by 100 meters or something.

[0:19:33] LHL: How are the scale of like processing these, your dark room must be enlarging too or –

[0:19:42] SG: Also with the grant, I was able to get a five-foot wide sink. So to process work at that skill, I sort of would need help. But you kind of like rock the material back and forth through the chemistry. I don't know how to describe for audio.

[0:20:02] LHL: It feels like a very maternal sort of gesturing, like rocking a baby to sleep.

[0:20:08] SG: Yes. I'm sure it's a little more –

[0:20:09] LHL: These are your babies.

[0:20:16] SW: And you had been a runner up sort of multiple times in a row before winning, right?

[0:20:21] SG: Yes. For four years, I was a finalist, which is wonderful.

[0:20:27] LHL: So you had gotten calls before in past years, like, "Oh, you're a finalist." So did you have like any expectations that that was what the call was?

[0:20:35] SG: The first year was a very big surprise. Like, yes, so motivating. Then, the second year, I was very excited to see your name come up, to hear finalists. That just felt like, "Oh, that means I'm – I'm even more, whatever." Then, the third year was like, "Oh, okay. This is me now." So by the fourth year, I don't even know what I expected. It's sort of it, it almost – it just seemed like a funny thing that happens every year. Not to sound – yes, that sounds like so frustrating, because the application is so much work. Yes, I don't mean to sound flippant. It's just – yes, it messed with my head.

[0:21:21] LHL: Absolutely. We've had other of this grant recipients who have applied multiple times, and weren't even runners up for many years. So it is sort of a process that it sounds like it's very common to do it for many, many years. It's sort of building upon your grant writing skills every year, probably. Well, that goes into the next question as far as like what was the grant writing process for you, and was there any point where you were like, "Ugh, maybe not this year" or "Oh, I don't have –"? Did you ever hit roadblocks or did you just keep always pushing through?

[0:21:57] SG: I kind of enjoy writing. I find that writing about my work is really helpful, even when it's not for anything, just writing in my studio in prose form. The part that was sort of difficult, I think was the budget part of it, and then justifying the budget in a way that genuine, but not like overly begging or something. I really need this – I don't know if that's the right way to do it or not, but yes, just trying to take a step back, and be objective in the budgeting part.

[0:22:35] SW: It's probably a good practice, just like being at a podcast, like learning, and like honing, how do you talk about yourself and your own art. But then the budget part is like a completely different, something that you don't have practice with as an artist necessarily? Did you have any support like talking to past winners, or from the charitable foundation as you were going through the process of writing it? Did you have an idea of what they wanted to see in the application in the budget?

[0:23:01] SG: I read through all the – I think there's a transcript of a question-and-answer thing that was on their website once, and I read through that. I asked for the feedback from the jurors every year, which is a little spooky. I feel like doing that every year was so helpful, whether or not I ever applied again, just hearing what sort of resonated and didn't resonate for the jurors in terms of what I should be doing in my work regardless. Then, I listened to Kate Knox's interview on Creative Guts, and I listened to Rick Fox's interview in Creative Guts.

I had worked with Rick Fox at UNH, and I didn't really know him very well there. But after he left, I then – we both live in Kittery, so I asked him just to go get a drink one night. It was nice to hear from his perspective, like an honest review of what it's like to have the grant.

[0:23:55] SW: I can't remember, I think Kate Knox just got lucky, and won the first time she applied, which is good for her. That's amazing. I think Rick was someone who had like applied multiple times, because that's more the norm with this grant. I mean, it's life changing, and it's so cool that the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation does this, because I'm not that familiar with unrestricted grants to artists as like a Thing.

[0:24:23] LHL: Oh my gosh, yes. It's very rare.

[0:24:25] SG: And in this amount, I think. Yes, it's typically about $2,000.

[0:24:32] LHL: It's a decent chunk. What advice would you give to an artist interested in applying for that grant or just grants in general?

[0:24:40] SG: I think that really picture yourself with that amount of money, and what you would truly do with it, that you need, but can't have. I feel like the first year that I applied, it was just like, "Oh, this is a crazy amount of money. I could do anything, whatever." I just kind of dreamworlded it, then I reeled it in, and thought – started each year like thought – thought through what exactly that amount of money means.

[0:25:09] LHL: Did you have other artists or creatives reviewing your application? Or are you very close to the chest?

[0:25:15] SG: I didn't share it. I didn't want to share it with anybody.

[0:25:19] LHL: I understand.

[0:25:19] SG: Because then, it's like – I don't know. If I had a friend read it, it'd be like, "Well, you said this about your work. Are you doing that?" Like three months later, like, "Are you doing it?" I had another friend of mine who's very good at getting grants for their work read it. Their feedback was so, it was kind and generous, and also, like surgical, which is just what I needed, was kind of just that extra polish.

[0:25:52] LHL: We talked about the vulnerability of putting your art on the wall, in the gallery, and putting a song on Spotify, and whatever you're doing. But like, writing a grant is a whole different kind of vulnerability, because the work isn't speaking for itself. You are also really projecting a roadmap, and asking people to buy into it. Ideally, committing to like, this is my roadmap, this is what I know I can do, or I intend to try to do. That's very scary, just in general. But then, to submit it to a group of people to dissect it, and really like pull on it, is very courageous.

[0:26:27] SW: Well, I imagine it's completely different than the act of writing a grant on behalf of a nonprofit. It's like, "Give us some money, and support these puppies, support these children."

[0:26:37] LHL: Support Creative Guts.

[0:26:38] SW: Yes. Versus saying like, "Invest in me. Take a chance on me as, like, an individual person and what I'm doing, I hope contributing to the world, but just what I'm doing."

[0:26:49] LHL: So congratulations and good job.

[0:26:50] SG: Thank you so much.

[0:26:50] SW: Congrats. It's truly it's so amazing. So, you found out the end of July, you couldn't tell anybody. That was a secret for a while. That's torture. Then, they finally announced it, so it's been less than a year that you've been sort of – yes, that's great. That's really great. For our listeners, if you're an artist in the Piscataqua region, there's a list of towns on the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation's website that you can look at, and figure out what exactly the Piscataqua region means. If you wanted to apply to that grant, then you should and we would encourage it. I don't even know if by the time this comes out, the grant will still be open. But you know, put it on your to do list.

[0:27:30] LHL: Yes, it's usually – I think – when is – the deadline is typically –

[0:27:33] SG: May 1st, usually.

[0:27:34] SW: Oh, yes. You have time, you have time, listeners.

[0:27:36] SG: Usually.

[0:27:38] LHL: Yes. Go to the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation's website to dive into this grant and others.

[0:27:44] SW: It must be so nice that for the first time you're not applying.

[0:27:47] SG: What am I going to do all of April?

[0:27:53] LHL: If there were any local creatives that were looking for advice, would you be open to ever chatting with anybody who's –

[0:28:01] SG: Sure. People can reach out through Instagram, or email me, or whatever.

[0:28:06] LHL: Yes. So maybe you'll be acting as a mentor in a way to some future grant writers.

[0:28:13] SW: Have you always – not to like totally switch gears from the grant –  have you always been creative? Did you grow up doing art, and did you pursue art in college?

[0:28:20] SG: Yes. I grew up very encouraged to do art. I don't remember there being like, any lack of supplies, or like any kind of – yes. I got a lot of positive feedback from my parents, from my friends. I think that this happens to – this is the experience of, maybe not all artists, but a lot of artists. It's like, you kind of just getting – I feel like I was just kind of encouraged into it in a way. It's like the feedback of, like, "Oh, you like when I do this, and I like when I do this, and it's good for everyone."

For a moment in high school, I thought, like, "Oh, I'll get it. I'll go to school for psychology or something." I kind of stepped away from the idea of being an artist once I was getting serious or something. Then, I had an art teacher in high school. She was great. That kind of changed my mind, partially through, I think, junior year of high school, like I changed my mind. Like, I should go to art school. So I did, went to undergrad for painting. Then, I worked for a few years, and then I got a degree in Art Education, and then taught high school art for five years. Then, I went for my Master's in Fine Arts, so I loved school.

[0:29:48] SW: Yes. Yes, I guess so.

[0:29:51] LHL: Do you still paint?

[0:29:52] SG: No.

[0:29:54] LHL: That's fair.

[0:29:56] SG: Maybe I will again, but I don't need to. The film is doing it for me.

[0:30:01] SW: Yes. Filling that sort of cup. I always love to really hear those origin stories, not saying necessarily that like, I want my son to grow up an artist, but I want him to feel like encouraged, or like that's like a possibility, or like an option for him. Because I did not feel like I was exposed to a lot of art, or like encouraged in art. I always think about that, I kind of wish that I had been. Not just art, but also sports and other stuff too, instruments, language.

[0:30:27] LHL: My dream would be that all kids feel like art or whatever creative discipline they love could be your career, or it could just be something they always do as a hobby, and as something that's just personally fulfilling to them. I feel like when we get to a certain age, what are you going to do with your life? What's your future going to be? Then, you just kind of put everything into that instead of, you know, holding on to those other parts that are very part of human experience and good for mental health.

[0:30:57] SG: There are a lot of people who say like, "Oh, I wish I could." I kind of want to say, and I think I do say, "It's okay not to also." I don't know if people feel like when they're in the presence of somebody who's an artist or creative, they feel like they're lacking something or like they should be doing something, but you – I don't know. I think that they only should be if they want to be. It's not like exercise or something, which you actually should do even if you don't want to.

[0:31:32] LHL: Yes. Also, you can do it without being good at it. You know what I mean? Just like, you can dance around in your house when no one's looking, and it doesn't – that's a very similar.

[0:31:43] SW: Sure. I love bad art. It's my specialty.

[0:31:48] LHL: Your art is lovely. I still have bunny woodcuts of yours up in my house. I love them.

[0:31:54] SW: That was actually a really nice sort of segue. Because the next question I was going to ask you is like, is there anything that you wish that people understood about art or being an artist more than they do?

[0:32:04] SG: Yes. I don't know. There's so many things that I think are over simplified, maybe in people's minds. I encounter all kinds of weird things that people project, that it's so relaxing, and always wonderful, I think is the most typical.

[0:32:25] SW: Well, you just sit around making art all day, right?

[0:32:27] SG: Yes.

[0:32:28] SW: What a dream. That's fun.

[0:32:30] LHL: It sounds so fun. It's like, "Oh, if they only knew."

[0:32:34] SG: It's almost like a trophy for an artist to be like, "Well, no, it's hard work." Yes, sometimes it's ecstatic, and sometimes it's miserable, but it just keeps going. I think there's sometimes a perception that if you're an artist, that then you're good at all visual things, and that you – oh, you're a painter, what do you think of these colors for my house? Maybe there's some overlap, but it's sort of – there's a whole universe of art, art and creative, and visual skills that don't necessarily all overlap or go hand in hand.

[0:33:12] LHL: Oh, absolutely. Yes. I mean, even from a muralist who uses a spray can versus a muralist who uses a brush. You think it's the same, but it's not. It's very different technical skill. I think, with visual art, there's technical skill, and then there's emotional intelligence, and creative intuition. But there's still technical skill and some education, whether it's self-taught or not. There's still like a component of growing and developing with that. I think that's something that people also think, it's a talent. Oh, it came naturally to you. Obviously, with a lot of education, comes a lot more that you can draw upon with your knowledge base, to then experiment and grow what you're doing. I think there's that part too, I always think about with folks.

[0:34:01] SW: I feel like it's probably time for rapid fire.

[0:34:03] LHL: Oh, so sad. It's already here.

[0:34:04] SW: I know. I still have a handful of questions left, but honestly, like thank you for humoring us and answering all of our nitty-gritty, random questions.

[0:34:14] SG: Thank you so much for having me, and asking them. It's really good to have to articulate.

[0:34:24] SW: That is the service we provide to artists. We have some rapid-fire questions. These are shorter questions, short-ish answers. We know how that goes. What other artists has influenced you the most?

[0:34:41] SG: I think that the artist who has had the biggest impact on me, like over my whole trajectory is probably when I discovered or found out about Sol LeWitt's instructional drawings. It's like a series have instructions that are then carried out by – meant to be carried out by someone else. The instructions themselves are or his art production, but the drawing is, then becomes like a gallery installation. But right now, I'm really amazed by Tauba Auerbach, is an artist who sort of dealing with a lot of science, and math, and like spatial design in a way that is just so smart. I am in awe of how smart she is, and how – yes, just how well her work is able to materialize these really complicated relationships between – I don't know exactly what even the words are.

[0:35:53] LHL: Cool. I'm going to check her out. 

[0:35:54] SW: I know, it's really cool. 

[0:35:55] LHL: This is a question that I have never asked anybody in my life, I think. What is your favorite geometric shape? Maybe I did in like second grade to another kid or something, but –

[0:36:06] SW: We should ask people that more often.

[0:36:07] SG: I love this question. Oh, man.

[0:36:10] LHL: Tailored just for you, Shaina.

[0:36:13] SG: I really love this question. I can't just say one, but I really love a square, because it is always proportional to itself. There's never a wrong proportion. It's like at any scale, it's still it's – I guess that's true of a circle also, or like an equilateral triangle, but the square is something that –

[0:36:36] SW: Four sides.

[0:36:37] LHL: A lot to depend on.

[0:36:40] SG: But the circle also is special. It's tough.

[0:36:43] SW: That sounds like kind of an interesting answer, because I feel like I don't see a lot of circles in your work.

[0:36:47] SG: None. I tried to play with some – I tried to get them into the work, but I don't know how yet. In a way that doesn't feel just decorative. Yes, I don't have a reason for a circle yet. Square, I have a reason.

[0:37:04] SW: Oh my gosh. Are there any mediums that you've never tried, but you kind of want to? Do you have, sort of, a bucket list?

[0:37:09] SG: Not for my work, but just because it seems really cool is like bronze casting.

[0:37:17] SW: I feel like somebody else had that same answer to that question.

[0:37:19] LHL: I think it might have been Liz.

[0:37:21] SW: I thought so, too.

[0:37:22] LHL: Maybe Liz Pier –

[0:37:23] SW: That's so funny. Oh my God. Do you know Liz Pieroni Schulte? You two should get together and do bronze casting.

[0:37:29] SG: And just figure it out.

[0:37:33] LHL: That's a rough one to just figure it out, but maybe. Do you have a least favorite thing about being an artist?

[0:37:43] SG: The days when it is – and there are so many of them — but yes, the days when it doesn't make sense. Not that it's – it's like I really want to steer clear of the word inspiration, or anything like that. But when things make sense, it's great, and there's flow. But when things don't make sense, that's –

[0:38:04] SW: Yes. I feel like that's probably something that anybody in any sort of creative field can just kind of get, like, "Yes, been there." There are just days when things just don't seem to work. What is your favorite color?

[0:38:17] SG: I really like orange going toward red.

[0:38:21] LHL: Nice.

[0:38:21] SG: I love that.

[0:38:22] LHL: Yep. What's your favorite scent?

[0:38:25] SG: I have to be honest, I listen to a few episodes to see what the recurring rapid-fire questions –

[0:38:30] LHL: I know. I'm making an infographic of all of them.

[0:38:34] SG: I think, yes, I have a few answers in my head. But I'm going to go with it like a tomato plant, like the leaf. You rub the leaf of a tomato plant.

[0:38:43] LHL: That's a first. I don't think anyone has said that.

[0:38:46] SW: That's a nice one. It puts you right in like the garden in the warm sun. 

[0:38:49] LHL: Yes. In the weather that I want right now.

[0:38:52] SW: What's your favorite sound?

[0:38:55] SG: Oh, I forgot about this one. I don't know.

[0:39:00] SW: That's okay.

[0:39:02] SG: In my studio, I'm in silence like all the time. I can't have music. I can't have public radio. It's silent. I don't know. I'm not a sound person. I don't know what the –

[0:39:17] LHL: The crinkling of the film in your hands. 

[0:39:19] SG: Ooh, no. 

[0:39:21] LHL: No? That was a strong reaction.

[0:39:27] SG: I mean, I guess like there's intros to songs that the first two notes like you hear, it's like, yes, the beginning of the white album in the USSR, like – yes, like that.

[0:39:44] LHL: What is your favorite texture to touch?

[0:39:47] SG: You know those toys that are like, it was a bunch of almost like nails going through a screen and you push your hand into it?

[0:39:54] LHL: Oh, yes.

[0:39:55] SW: Yes. What's the name for that?

[0:39:58] SG: I don't know.

[0:39:59] LHL: I have no idea.

[0:40:00] SW: The Children's Museum of New Hampshire –

[0:40:02] SG: Has a huge one, right?

[0:40:03] SW: Has a huge one. It's so big.

[0:40:06] LHL: Think of how many little pieces have been pushed into that.

[0:40:08] SG: Oh, I was thinking of the science museum in Boston, that has it also.

[0:40:13] SW: Yes, yeah. We go to the Children's Museum in Dover all the time, as one does.

[0:40:22] SW: Where is the most inspiring location you've traveled to?

[0:40:26] SG: Last year, we went to go visit my brother who lives on the West Coast, and we went to Yosemite, and we were hiking. We were like up high, and looking sort of down into this sort of spring waterfall, like gushing. We could see the whole circle of a rainbow, and whatever. It's cheesy to love rainbows, but seeing the whole circle of it was just so awesome, and it could only – we could have only seen it by being up that high. Then we had this, like, really special conversation about all the wavelengths that are at the edge, and how far into the center do they go, or do they wrap around. Yes, it was like a very –

[0:41:14] LHL: Oh my goodness.

[0:41:15] SG: Yes. Yes. 

[0:41:18] SW: That's very inspiring.

[0:41:19] SG: That's it. That's my perfect moment in location specific.

[0:41:26] LHL: What is the last new thing you've learned?

[0:41:29] SG: Was listening to a podcast, and there's a physicist, this Italian physicist. Things that we consider to be objects, they only have properties in relation to each other, which is just such a big thought to have. I think, really applicable for any artist who uses materials in a – for whom materials are important.

[0:41:54] LHL: One could say that about humans. Well, in our experiences, in a different way. Yes, that's beautiful.

[0:42:02] SW: This is our clincher question. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?

[0:42:08] SG: I would tell myself to keep taking math classes. I was good at math. I stopped because I wanted to fill up my schedule with art classes.

[0:42:21] SW: Sure, that's fair.

[0:42:21] SG: It's reasonable.

[0:42:23] LHL: It's surprising to hear an artist say this stuff, I have to admit.

[0:42:29] SG: Yeah, I really enjoy math. I think a lot of my work sort of aims at the satisfaction from resolving a sort of complex puzzle. Now, I want to incorporate and read about these different sort of math and physics theories. I'm just barely scratching over the technical parts of it. I wish I understood the whole thing and not just the –

[0:42:57] LHL: Very cool answer, very unique.

[0:42:59] SW: Yeah. Absolutely. Thank you so much.

[0:43:03] SG: Thank you so much.

[0:43:03] LHL: This was so fun, and we've been thinking about all the questions we're going to ask you for a long time. It was really exciting to have you on.

[0:43:11] SW: It was. It was great.

[0:43:12] SG: Yes. This was a lot of fun.

[0:43:14] LHL: Thank you again, Shaina, for being on the show. And with that – 

[0:43:18] LHL & SW: Show us your Creative Guts.


[0:43:25] SW: Another huge thank you to Shaina for joining us on Creative Guts. I literally don't even know where to start. 

[0:43:32] LHL: I know. That was a long time coming, but it was beautiful. It was just as great as I expected it would be.

[0:43:39] SW: Yes. I've had the pleasure of seeing Shaina's pieces in person. It was on a particularly sunny day too, and they're sort of by the window, and the light really plays with them. I don't know, it's just like so visually stunning and so confusing to me. I remember reading, I was talking to Matt Wyatt and Amy Regan, and I read the little card with the mediums on it. I was like, "I don't really know what a photogram is. I don't really know what cyanotype is, although I kind of know what it is. I definitely don't know what the rest of these words mean." It's just one of those few episodes where you and I are just like, "This isn't a medium that we do."

[0:44:16] LHL: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I have worked with lots of mediums and I have done a little bit of alternative photography processes, mostly in college. But the structure of it, of how she does it, and how the structures actually come out. It feels magical, it feels otherworldly, supernatural, just beyond, and it's such a delicate thing. Think about fingerprints, think about the actual technical process of mounting them. Are they frail? Do they feel temporal? Do they feel like – there's just so much to it, that even talking to her, I think we could have had ten more episodes, just talking about all – she should have a podcast that's she's just talking about how she makes these. 

[0:45:03] SW: I can't wait to see what she does in terms of documenting her processes, because she has this like very sort of cerebral, thoughtful, creative, curious thing about her. So cool. I really want one of her pieces on my wall.

[0:45:24] LHL: I think that would be amazing. I think this would enhance anyone's home if they're lucky enough to get one. Just really amazing work. I really feel very inspired in such a different way. Typically, I'm always inspired by guests, but whatever the medium is, chances are, this sounds a little braggy. But like, I've dipped my toe in it. Or if I'm talking to a visual artist, I want to go home and paint. If I'm talking to a musician, I want to go play some tunes. With Shaina, I don't want to go do what she's doing, but I just feel fueled in general. You never know what you may stumble upon, and that's sort of the beauty and art. I'm so glad that the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation is recognizing her work.

[0:46:06] SW: Me too, especially like I can only imagine this, always a finalist, never a bride. She finally won, and I'm so happy.

[0:46:15] LHL: Yes. Congratulations again, Shaina. Thank you so much for joining us. This was really spectacular.

[0:46:22] SW: Yes, it was amazing. Seriously, listeners, I know, we've said it. If you haven't by now, please go look at Shaina's work. So you can find it on her website, which is also beautiful, She's on Instagram, her handle is @shainagates.

[0:46:36] LHL: For folks who are listening out of the State of New Hampshire, this is going to be really not related to you, and I am sorry. But go look at the grant opportunities that your state's arts organizations have and what else might be there from the NEA, from other different organizations. Go take a chance on maybe getting some money that can enhance your creative experience. 

[0:46:59] SW: Yes. As always, you can find all the links that we dropped and more in the episode description on our website, You'll find us on Facebook and Instagram at Creative Guts Podcast too.

[0:47:10] LHL: This episode is sponsored in part by the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts. Thank you to our friends in Rochester for their support of the show.

[0:47:17] SW: And of course, we're coming at you from Art Up Front Street in Exeter, New Hampshire. A big thank you to them for providing a space where we can record the show.

[0:47:26] LHL: If you love listening and want to support Creative Guts, you can make a donation, leave a review, interact with our content on social media, purchase some merch. Whatever you're able to do, we appreciate you.

[0:47:36] SW: Thank you for tuning in. We'll be back next Wednesday with another episode of Creative Guts.