Shirley Veenema

Shirley Veenema, Instructor in Art and Chair of the Art Department, showcases the mixed-media pieces of five different variations of a bouquet of flowers called “Vanitas.” The five flower pictures differ in the angles at which the lights are shone on the flowers.

Q: Do you like to personalize your artwork by adding something about yourself or your life into your pieces?

A: I think for me a lot of my work is driven by research that I do. [“Vanitas” is] about the idea of existing between being alive and being dead. Those are flowers that are not quite dead yet, but they’re not alive either. They exist in that middle space. The moment you are born you are starting to die. I am picking up on the idea of “Vanitas” paintings and putting it into a more contemporary context.

Q: How did you convey the sense of mortality in your artwork?

A: I think that there is a sense of time. There are some subtle changes throughout the panels. When you die, you gradually die. When I actually began those [works], I used real flowers that were almost dead. What I did was that I pressed them onto a piece of paper and used that as the basis of my drawing.

Q: Is there a recurring theme throughout your artwork?

A: I have been working with several different ideas. I have been working with the “Vanitas” idea for about three years. I have also been working with the idea of ordinary icons. In fact, last year I showed a number of big drawings of dresses that I have been doing for a series called “Channeling Marilyn Monroe.” Most recently, I have [been] doing interpretive work based on [Emily Dickinson’s] poetry.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?

A: I feel like if you are an artist, you have to be open to things, and lots of times you might be working on something, and since you are open to other ideas, it morphs into something else.

Compiled by Andrea Yepez