Bradlee Shanks creates figural and landscape narratives, complex allegorical representations of his lived experience. His images may be extremely realistic or strangely drawn and distorted. In many cases, the format suggests a window to a world that prompts the viewer to ponder a context beyond the confines of the picture frame. The surface and colors of his work are notable for their subtle nuances and vibrancy.
Shanks has been a recognized leader in the area of digitally mediated printmaking. His goal is to use technology to foment artistic improvisation, its presence opaquely rendered within the final interpretation of the work. Shanks manipulates representation and context, constructing a highly detailed reality, creating implicit analogies for human experience. His drawn, photographic, and digital processes yield artful intricate designs with expert craftsmanship.
Shanks has exhibited in over 150 national and international group exhibitions including the 2007 Wrexham Print International, Boston Printmakers 2007 North American Print Biennial, 31st Bradley International Print, and Drawing Exhibition, 2006 Colorprint USA and Print Arts Northwest Currents 2006. Solo exhibitions include such venues as the University of Alabama, Auburn University, University of Georgia, University of Alaska, and Tampa area galleries. He has served as a panelist and demonstrator at numerous national and international printmaking conferences.
Shanks’ work is in collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, the Fogg Museum in Boston, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. Shanks received a BFA from the University of South Dakota and his MFA from Arizona State University in 1986. For 34 years Shanks was the head of printmaking at the University of South Florida. He retired in 2020 and is now a full-time artist.
Image making is a joyful process for me. The joy comes from the mind's delight in its own activity coupled with physical art practice. The work is at once mechanical but also gestural- a mash-up of disparate modes. There is hybridity to the work, yielding a synergy that delights. I have been a practitioner of many different kinds of processes, exploiting the language of painterly, drawn, digital and photomechanical printmaking. The manifest body of work is eclectic and idiosyncratic. What inspires me is trust in the idea that something deeply personal is simultaneously universal. I want my art to be visionary, engaging, and alluring, while also feeling connected to a collective spirit.