Shawn McNulty | Photo by Ben Brown

Artist Statement

“My work is dependent on design fundamentals: form, color, and composition.  My style explores the relationship between man-made structures and the natural world; the idea of recognizable shapes and structures living within irrational thoughts and emotions. I begin a new piece very spontaneously and become more detailed as the composition starts to show itself. The first layer is the most erratic and freeform as I mash and scrape together a variety of acrylic colors and pumice with commercial grade joint knives.  I invented a “shoe palette knife” which I use on early layers to challenge the way my body connects to the surface by using my feet.   I also work the canvas on the floor using various tools that I create with household items.  A dialogue is created with the painting, and it starts to show me what needs to be done. Thick layers of acrylic and pumice and are applied, scraped off, reapplied, sliced off, etc.  There’s a technique I call “scuffling” which involves a repetitive chopping motion with the palette knife resulting in approximate parallel lines.   The color fields interplay with each other, attempting to find common ground resulting in complex and interesting edges.  The process continues until a solution is found, always applying and mixing paint directly on the canvas, scraping away layers to reveal the ghostly characters of the previous.  There is a feeling of serenity in my work, but it’s draped over unbridled energy, which is breaking through it.  I don’t let you relax completely.”



St. Johns University, Collegeville, MN BFA 1997

Selected Exhibitions

Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport, MN 2021

Rosalux Gallery, Minneapolis, MN (Annually 2002-2020)

Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hopkins, MN (Annually 2005-2020)

ICOSA, Austin, TX 2019

The National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland 2015

Minnetonka Center for the Arts, Abstraction in Action, Wayzata, MN 2015

Arte Internazionale Exhibition, Matera, Italy 2014

Inez Greenberg Gallery, Bloomington, MN 2013

Sopa Fine Arts, British Columbia, Canada 2012

Miami Art Group Gallery, Art Basel, Miami, FL 2009

Silas Marder Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY 2007

Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson, WI 2004

Cannonball Fine Art, San Francisco, CA 2003


MPR Art Hounds, February 2021

Minnesota Daily (U of M), A Canvas Dance Floor, September 2016

Hyperallergic, Another Pro Football Team Adds an Art Collection to Its Playbook, September 2016

Minnesota Monthly Magazine, Best New Art of 2016, January 2016

Minneapolis Star Tribune, Vikings Commission US Bank Stadium Art from 34 Minnesota Artists, October 2015

Minneapolis Star Tribune, Abstraction Blooms Anew, April 2015

City Pages, Chaos Control, August 2014

Vita.mn, Chaos Control, August 2014

Minneapolis Star Tribune, Interpose, November 2013

Vita.mn, Archeology of Color, January 2013

City Pages, Archeology of Color, January 2013

Minnesota Monthly Magazine, Flashing Red, April 2012

Metro Magazine, Scuffle and Scrape, March 2011

Citypages, Scuffle and Scrape, March 2011

Mpls St. Paul Magazine, Art-A-Whirl, (Full Page Photo) May 2010

Vita.mn, Shiny Robot, August 2009

Vita.mn, Pocket Retrospective, May 2009

Vita.mn, Pretty Please, March 2009

Lakeshore Weekly News, An Artist of his Time, November 2007

Contemporary Art Gallery Magazine, Artist Interview, May 2007

Metro Magazine, Premiere Issue, September 2006

The Southern Review, Featured Visual Artist, March 2006

Mental Contagion, Cause and Effect Artist Interview, December 2005

Minneapolis Downtown Journal, Mass Transit Review, October 2005

The Rake, Mass Transit Review, October 2005

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