Latitude 53


Shanell Papp | Based on a True Story

April 13–May 27, 2017

Shanell Papp 1.jpg

Opening reception for members & guests: Thursday, April 13 at 7 pm

Workshop with the artist | Saturday, May 27

Shanell Papp’s textile work in "Based on a True Story" presents violent crime, truth and revenge.

Lethbridge artist Papp uses textiles and plastic sculpture to create backdrops for scenes of strange figures, inspired by fairy tales, horror films, and true crime in clusters that spin a story of revenge.

Shanell Papp spent her childhood in a junk store. Owned by her grandmother Papp would sit and re-craft found fabrics and stuffed animals to her own creation.

“I could use whatever materials I wanted because she wasn’t worried about getting them back,” says Papp.

She would tag along when her grandmother would visit estate sales and people’s homes for re-sellable materials. For Papp it removed some of the preciousness around materials, allowing her to create without the thought of what something might become, but just to try creating something new.

“I wasn’t concerned with using a pattern, but just playing with materials and learning from it,” says Papp.

The process ingrained in Papp is evident in her exhibition Based on a True Story now up in the Latitude 53 gallery. Found materials, crocheted and knit into twisted creations that come from her obsession with true crime, horror stories and fairy tales are uniquely disturbing and gorgeous.

A graduate of the University of Lethbridge’s fine arts program, Papp initially didn’t see that textiles were taken seriously, or that they were her best fit as an artist. Some preconceived notions of what serious art was led her to focus on photography rather than textile work and it took a few years, and encouragement from her professors to bring her back to focus on textiles.

“I thought if you’re going to cross stitch you’re going to cross stitch something nice for your house and if you knit it will have purpose for domestic life,” says Papp.

But the intricate designs in the knit severed heads, pin design on “after goya - the figure in white” and unexpected endearing nature of the monsters reveals

Since childhood Papp has been drawn to the dark side of stories. The horror story and true crime elements are threaded throughout the monsters and gruesome true crime elements are threaded throughout.

“I’m really interested in police detectives picking apart the story and it’s why I’m interested in art because someone has made this thing and it’s almost like a piece of evidence,” says Papp. “I focus on stuff that terrifies me.”

The exhibition is up at Latitude 53 until May 27. 

Papp will be back in Edmonton to provide a workshop on textile based creation, story and technology research and the creative process on May 27.