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

My practice is a legible hybrid of research, activism, and alternative exhibition strategies. 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 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 + public memorials, 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 Appalachian artist, nonfiction author, self-taught historian, scrimshander, and museum professional based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His multidisciplinary creative work challenges the oppression of currently-dominant historical narratives, both social and ecological. 

 

Shaun regularly works in collaboration with artists and other specialists, and in collectively-structured groups. He is the Creative Director at the award-winning West Virginia Mine Wars Museum, and a founding member of the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative. He is an original member of the now-disbanded Howling Mob Society, and former collaborator with Street Art Workers.

 

Shaun has exhibited internationally in a variety of museums, galleries, and nonprofit spaces, as well as non-authorized public settings. He has presented on his research and creative practice at numerous universities and conferences in the United States and Western Europe. His work has been exhibited across the US and the world, including at the Queens Museum, the Biennial of Graphic Arts (Ljubljana, Slovenia), and the U.S. Pavilion at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia (Italy). For his work with the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum, he was presented with Honorary Membership in the United Mine Workers of America, Local 1440 in Matewan, WV (he is now an Associate Member). His forthcoming book, So Much To Be Angry About: Appalachian Movement Press 1969-79 will be available on West Virginia University Press in the spring of 2021.

 

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.