Shawn Causey & Mark Daniell: Sweet Spot

WELCOME to the Indy Arts Studio Series, where you will find behind-the-scenes information such as raw footage from conversations with featured artists, details about artwork development, artist bios, the show at-a-glance, and other details about the exhibitions in Gallery 924 at the Arts Council.

Shawn Causey & Mark Daniell: Sweet Spot

Gallery 924 
April 1 – 29, 2016

Shawn Causey and Mark Daniell have collaborated on multiple large scale public works including two Arts Council projects in downtown Indianapolis called Bright City and Vibe Street, both of which carry the central color theory themes that are the basis of their public work. Sweet Spot continues this color investigation as the artist team constructs their most immersive piece to date. They have filled Gallery 924 with approximately 3,000 multicolor nylon cords hanging from ceiling to floor, creating a unified composition that brings color rhythms and patterns into three dimensions.

Visitors are encouraged to discover a myriad of perspectives created by the installation by moving around and throughout the piece itself. The viewer will see shimmering rhythmic patterns as cords at different depths of field seem to float past each other. Observing new color harmonies from every vantage point enables the viewer to find their own “sweet spot”–a unique experience of resonating color relationships.

Both natives of Indianapolis, Shawn Causey and Mark Daniell grew up on the city’s north side. Causey, an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow, received degrees in art and music from Herron School of Art and Design and Butler University respectively. Daniell received a degree in philosophy and religious studies from Butler University. He has a background in carpentry, fine woodworking, and jewelry making.

Prior to the exhibition, the Arts Council visited their workspace at SoBro Arts and spoke with them about their installation at Gallery 924.

While neither of you went directly to art school, what drew you to the visual arts? How did you first decide to collaborate?


“I always had the urge to make visual art of some sort.”

From a young age, Causey was interested in the visual arts. However, she initially studied music because her high school and college did not offer visual arts programs. Her passion for visual arts continued on throughout the beginning of her career, so she decided to go back to school to study visual art at Herron School of Art and Design.

When asked if her music background influences her visual work, she said that there is a lot of crossover between playing music and creating her rhythmic color field paintings. She enjoys the intense focus working in the studio requires and likens it to the concentration needed to practice an instrument.

“I’ve just always been a maker of things.”

Daniell said that, while he wasn’t always a traditional fine artist, he has always been interested in tinkering and creating. He has worked as a carpenter, contractor, and woodworker, and these skills lent themselves to the development of Causey and Daniell’s first partnership during the creation of Bright City.


In addition to creating the two Arts Council projects in downtown Indianapolis (Bright City and Vibe Street), what other ideas have you been working on? How has your use of color theory, which strongly influences your work, changed?



“While we were working on Bright City…we [became] curious to see what would happen if we brought the color out into space.”

The artists say they are inspired by the work of Gene Davis. After finishing their first collaborative project Bright City, Causey and Daniell played around with the idea of creating an installation of giant aluminum poles. The concept behind this idea being that people would experience in three dimensions the color shifts the artists were seeing in the two-dimensional Bright City.

The artists worked on developing a project for exhibition at ArtPrize. During this time, they considered adding another, personal layer to their color field work. The artists’ concept was to engage the large audience of ArtPrize by hanging a collection of their own mementos from colored nylon cords. Viewers would walk through the installation, take away an object  hanging from one of the cords, and then discard it into a shredder. Daniell says that both he and Causey had been distracted from their work because they were busy sorting through objects and boxes of sentimental items they had collected, and it led him to think about how attachments to physical objects affect how one experiences life.

The artists followed this idea and worked on a concept for ArtPrize, but ended up being inspired to go in a different direction:

“It was the process of building the maquette for the ArtPrize piece, where we saw that hanging vertical color all by itself was what we needed.”


Now that we know how you came to figure out the technical aspects of your Gallery 924 installation, Sweet Spot, can you tell us more about the concept?


“The process is a lot of box making, and it’s a lot of thread winding…and a lot of threading.”

The installation is extremely labor intensive. Sweet Spot is comprised of 46 units of 75 nylon cords strung from the floor to the ceiling of Gallery 924. This means that they have cut and threaded 3,450 strings through 6,900 holes that Daniell has carefully plotted and drilled. Nearly 100 volunteers aided the artists in cutting, spooling, and threading the nylon cords.

“Like swimming through a lake on a summer day. It’s warm and then suddenly you hit that patch of cool.”

As viewers move around Sweet Spot, they will see the 24 different colors aligning in different combinations and at different depths against a black background. The artists hope that the viewer will “find their own sweet spot where the color relationships line up just how [they] like it.” Daniell also says that in order to truly experience the piece, one has to slow down and let their eyes rest.

“You slow down enough and you relax…the depth,–the deep and the near–just kind of come together…a sweet spot of awareness where you can actually see into it. Part of the sweet spot is just getting to where you can see.”


For More Information:

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Gallery 924 is open Monday – Friday from 9 am – 5 pm.  Thursdays from 9 am – 6 pm.