How Shana Sadeghi-Ray’s obsessions with collecting informs her design work
The New York-based artist has continued exploring her fascination with objects since we last spoke to her. But more importantly, she tells us about her growth as a creative.
- Ruby Boddington
- 16 July 2021
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
The absurdity of celebrity culture, basketball, kitsch, and the objects of our contemporary world, in particular plushies, are the basis for New York-based artist and designer Shana Sadeghi-Ray’s work. Born in Boston, her multimedia pieces investigate how and why we ascribe meaning to objects while also reflecting the aesthetics of the first generation who grew up with the internet. In turn, she often works with found objects, either creating installations and sculptures from them or photographing them to be used on graphics. She combines these photographs with illustrations and lettering and, as such, her work retains a tactile and analogue quality even when used in a commercial sense for brands such as Supreme, Marc Jacob and Better Gift Shop.
We last wrote about Shana’s work two years ago, where she explained that she’s been a life-long hoarder and collector, a hobby that has directly inspired her work and fascination with objects. One recent project, in particular, displays Shana’s obsession with collecting and is entitled Collection Project. Presented as collages where photographs of objects are superimposed onto coloured backgrounds, it acts as a way to invite those not able to physically enter her space into her world. “The nostalgia and identifiable characters make it easily relatable to the viewers,” Shana says. “I was initially overwhelmed and was feeling embarrassment by the amount of things I owned and started this series to try to curb my compulsion to collect. The opposite happened, and I have come to terms with this desire, accepting it as a part of who I am.” While we learn through Collection Project of Shana’s proclivity for holding onto things, we also understand various facets of her personality through which things she chooses to hold onto.
GalleryShana Sadeghi-Ray: Collection Project (Copyright © Shana Sadeghi-Ray, 2020)
Shana’s most recent personal project though was made in collaboration with her fried Tatum Mangus. Called Plushie Land, it poses hand-sewn plushies in landscapes for them to interact with. “Tatum really elevated my work with her photography, taking it to a level I’d never imagined,” Shana tells us. With this iteration involving forest scenes and retro stuffed animals, Shana found the whole process incredibly inspiring and therefore wants to push the idea further: “It would be cool to push this in the direction of animation or a book.”
Reflecting on the past couple of years more holistically, Shana notes how she’s grown a lot as an artist and now has “a better idea of who I am and what makes me unique.” This means she less regularly deals with imposter syndrome as her experience has allowed her to “feel confident and I stand up for myself more than I used to.” In turn, staying true to herself has become particularly important. “It’s easy to get influenced by my peers but I need to remember who I am, and I want to share my perspective,” she adds. During the pandemic, her purpose shifted further and she found herself more involved in her local community, trying to help those in need wherever possible.
Shana is currently working on a piece incorporating “a wooden figurine display with multiple compartments” for Project Space that will be shown in July. And she’s also secured her first show exhibition that will take place in August at WHAAM Gallery in Chinatown, New York City. “I’m excited for the possibilities,” she tells us. Aside from work though, she’s figuring out where she needs to be “in order to find some peace” and that may mean leaving New York for a short while “since the reopening energy is draining.” Despite that, she concludes that she is “optimistic and will continue my practice regardless of where I am.”
Shana Sadeghi-Ray: Heaven By Marc Jacobs (Copyright © Shana Sadeghi-Ray/Heaven by Marc Jacobs, 2021)
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.