This is a new favorite TED Talk find. I’m feeling a tad bit envious of Shea Hembrey. Not because I wish I had done what he has, I don’t wish that, but because I love the way that he asked a question that was based on the frustration he felt with the contemporary art world (a frustration that I have felt oh-so-often!) and went about solving it with such gusto.

I love contemporary art, but I’m often really frustrated with the contemporary art world and the contemporary art scene. A few years ago, I spent months in Europe to see the major international art exhibitions that have the pulse of what is supposed to be going on in the art world. And I was struck by going to so many, one after the other, with some clarity of what it was that I was longing for. And I was longing for several things that I wasn’t getting, or not getting enough of. But two of the main things: one of it, I was longing for more work that was appealing to a broad public, that was accessible. And the second thing that I was longing for was some more exquisite craftsmanship and technique.

He thought about what he thought would make the perfect biennial. His rules were:

the three H’s which is head, heart and hands. And great art would have head: it would have interesting intellectual ideasand concepts.It would have heart in that it would have passionand heart and soul. And it would have hand in that it would be greatly crafted.

And then he created it. He created all of it – all 100 international artists in the biennial and all of the work that they created according to his criteria. Brilliant!


Shea’s bio:

Shea Hembrey was born in 1974. He grew up on a dirt road in rural Hickory Grove, Arkansas in a family of farmers, factory workers, hunters, trappers, musicians, and cockfighters.

He makes art by concentrating on a singular, defined conceptual project where the ideas direct what methods and media he uses. Research is key to all of his creative endeavors while he remains a prolific maker of things.

Though always focused on developing skills on his own, he has a varied formal art education. His nine years of studying art at university include a year spent studying Maori art in New Zealand and an MFA from Cornell University.

His studio is currently based in a sleepy town on the Delaware River in New Jersey.

Do you want to see more? I did. Check out Shea’s website.

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