About the Photographer
American, b. 1972 Caldwell, Idaho
Shawn Records photographs in an anecdotal style and his images depict small narrative incidents with a droll, if understated sensibility. The artist's family members are recurrent figures in his work and he often focuses on ordinary activities and settings—from familiar yet idiosyncratic domestic episodes to the residential landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, where he lives. Drawing out latent significance in the minutiae of these ordinary subjects, or activating them as unlikely metaphors, Records invites us to consider how the seemingly unremarkable relates to social currents on a larger scale.
In each of his series Records gradually develops a set of central themes or organizing ideas. La Playa, for example, is a loosely organized, ongoing series that revolves around the interactions of Records' family with his aging parents within the structured environment of their retirement community. The artist describes the project as investigating notions of love, idealized beauty, obfuscation, and a desire to connect. In contrast, for the Portland Grid Project, Records joined two dozen photographers in a systematic effort to document the city of Portland, neighborhood by neighborhood. His contribution is at once a study of place and a meditation on processes of observation.
Nevertheless, Records maintains a degree of fluidity between his projects and certain themes surface not only within a single series but throughout his body of work. In both of the above-mentioned series, the private backyard is a recurring motif. In each of the two photographs in the museum's collection Records draws into relief how the yard represents an attempt to live with nature on our own terms. The everyday landscapes in these photographs are peaceful and even pretty, but they carry a quiet undercurrent of violence. In My Parents House, Sedro Wooley, Washington (2006) from the La Playa, flower pots are placed on the stump of a tree where its own boughs once grew. In Untitled, E-3/F-3 (2005) from the Portland Grid Project, a dog house is surrounded by towering chain-link fences, alluding to concerns about control, containment, and safety.
Shawn Records completed a BA at Boise State University, Boise, Idaho (2000) and an MFA in Photography at Syracuse University (2003).