Artist explores the post-9/11 universe by Tim Shellberg
Like many artist, the terrorist attacks had a profound impact on Shanoor's work. "Other than the horrific event itself, what it did was made me sad," he said. "It brought the human factor down into animal factor. I thought a better way to come out of this was, as an artist, to say that we are all the same."
More than 20 of the artist's works, on display at the Atrium Gallery of Wesemann Hall on the campus of Valparaiso University, will be the focus of a lecture given by Shanoor on Thursday. Presented by the university's college of law, Shanoor's discussion regarding his exhibit, "Toto Coelo - Extreme Conditions," is scheduled for Thursday at 4p.m.
Born in the Middle East and educated in London, Shanoor has been an artist since he was a child in the mid-1950s. In London, he studied advertising, but switched to film when coming to Chicago to study at the School of the Art Institute.
He immediately fell in love whith the Windy City, and remains in awe of it some three decades after first arriving.
"Chicago is awesome, awesome, awesome," he said. It's too cold sometimes, but it's got the energy that I need."
After more than a decade of working as a graphic designer at prestigious agencies such as Leo Burnett and pursuing his art when he's off the clock, Shanoor, along with his wife, Sylva, formed their own agency, Devarj Associates. The advertising and design company celebrated its two-decade anniversary last year.
Yet Shanoor, who moved to Munster a decade ago, has never put his paintbrushes down for long. His works have adorned walls everywhere from Northwestern University to the Borders bookstore on Chicago's Michigan Avenue to the Jacob Javitz Center in Manhattan. He also has submitted works in the past for the Northern Indiana Arts Association's Salon Show.
"I'm a proponent of the acrylic medium," Shanoor said. "It's an incredible molecular structure that has a better resistance to change ... it dries fast, so you have to have strong ideas. You can play with it here and there a little bit, though."
Resistance to change is a running theme in "Toto Coelo," which Shanoor said in Latin for "total extreme conditions." Having created works in the past around heavy topics such as AIDS and breast cancer, Shanoor said that his art reflects his desire to change his world in the post 9/11 universe, both as human being and an artist.
"I accept change and my art tries to change," he said. "What happened with Sept. 11 was the floodgates were open with both people who wanted to change and with people who didn't want to change ... when you have a half that tries to change and another half that doesn't try to change, you have two ideologies clashing together."
"Toto coelo" is scheduled to run at the Atrium Gallery at Wesemann Hall through March 1. For Shanoor, exhibiting this body of work in a college setting such as Vallparaiso is fundamental.
"To me, this is the right venue, because that's where our future is," Shanoor said. "The hope starts with our younger generation. The new ideas, they start with our younger generation as well."