Beauty Examined: Brooke Shaden

JoAnne Artman Gallery
Oct 22, 2020 8:57PM

What makes art beautiful is a complicated concept, since beauty is in the eye of the beholder and can change based on context. In Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgment, he argued that the experience of beauty is a subjective, but common, human truth. For example, the judgment that ‘generally, all roses are beautiful’ is not a matter of taste, but a grounded, logical conclusion based on encountering multiple beautiful roses.

Brooke Shaden
Release, 2019
JoAnne Artman Gallery

However, within the framework of art, there are no universal truths about beauty because sometimes, beauty is not the artist’s ultimate goal. Artists may express something so that their audience is emotionally stimulated—creating feelings, curiosity, identification, or memories. In these cases, aesthetics may be an irrelevant measure of “beautiful” art.

Posing difficult questions to her viewers about change and the darker psyche of humanity, Brooke Shaden’s photography addresses our collective anxieties, dreams, and nightmares while also maintaining an undeniable, haunting beauty.

Brooke Shaden
Contain, 2019
JoAnne Artman Gallery

Finding inspiration in many sources including the beauty and darkness of human nature, an inclusive, humanist approach is a central tenet in much of Shaden’s work as she explores the nuances of the unsettling corners of mind in work that is emotionally intelligent, chillingly direct, and visually mesmerizing.

The impactful, alluringly disconcerting compositions are created through fundamental changes to everyday objects resulting in uncanny, extraordinary images and stories. Shaden shapes the world to her vision utilizing only natural, practical lighting, and builds the final image via a layering process. The imagery is often allegorical as well as visceral, seductive, and instantly relatable.

Shaden’s work represents the breathtaking imagery attainable through a fine-tuned manipulation of the medium. The vintage, gritty feel to the works, the tonal color palette, and her ability to capture and emulate raw emotion give the work a sharp bite – an edge which brings a deeper resonance to the work.

Brooke Shaden
Hidden #2: Concealed, 2019
JoAnne Artman Gallery

Unconventional and vulnerable, each image is ultimately a story; an interwoven narrative that examines life, purpose, and of course, what defines beauty.

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JoAnne Artman Gallery