installing Between Dog and Wolf, location unknown photo by Bill Daniel, 2009

Based in Pittsburgh, a city set inside the flexible cultural boundaries of both Appalachia (a name we call The Land and People) and the Rustbelt (a name we call What We’ve Done to The Land and People), I work to dismantle oppressive historical narratives, both social and ecological. 

My practice is a legible hybrid of research, activism, and alternative exhibition strategies. I am a storyteller, with a shapeshifting and flexible approach to creative tactics. I dig deep where I stand:  I balance an academic’s research practice with the folk-keeper’s belief in the validity of the stories and practices of everyday people. My work teaches, and it also asks.

 

key points of interest:

coyotes + urban wildlife, historical markers + plaques, histories of oppression, histories of resistance to oppression, mythology + “folklore”, memory, souvenirs, propaganda, fraktur, scrimshaw, pioneer flora + fauna, smashed pennies, DIY pedestrian and municipal infrastructures, air/water/soil quality, subterfuge + détournement, trickster archetypes.

 

bio:

Shaun Slifer (b.1979) is an artist, writer, scrimshander, self-taught historian, and museum professional based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His primary concern is the oppression of currently-dominant historical narratives, for humans and non-humans alike. Shaun gets particularly excited when he’s digging up untold histories, illuminating the stories held within objects, exploring tiny upstart museums, celebrating urban-adaptive flora and fauna, and documenting (and sometimes making) DIY civic signage.

 

Shaun regularly works in collaboration with other artists, non-artists, and in collectively structured groups including the now-disbanded Street Art Workers and the Howling Mob Society, and currently Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative (of which he is a founding member and manager of Global Distro HQ) and the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum (where he is the Creative Director). He is an Associate Member of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), District 17, Local 1440.

 

Shaun has exhibited internationally in a variety of museums, galleries, and nonprofit spaces, as well as non-authorized public settings. He has presented on history, creative practice, and grassroots media at numerous universities and conferences in the United States and Europe.

 

Currently living in Pittsburgh, PA, with roots in Nebraska and Tennessee, he received a BFA with a concentration in sculpture from Watkins College of Art in Nashville in 2003.

Because a history of the land is a critical focus of my work, it’s important for me to acknowledge the traditional Native inhabitants of my home. Prior to colonization, the area currently known as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I live and work, was always a place of great focus and movement. At various times this region was occupied by Hopewell, Monongahela, Osage, and Shawnee peoples, and most expansively/recently by the Haudenosaunee and by the Lenape in migration westward from their ancestral lands as a result of settler colonialism in the Delaware valley.
The last settlement that I am aware of which fell within the Pittsburgh city limits was Chief Shannopin’s Lenape settlement along the Allegheny, in what is now Pittsburgh’s Strip District. This settlement was abandoned around 1754.