Marna Shopoff: Shifting Perspectives

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.

Shifting Perspectives

Gallery 924 
November 4 – 23, 2016

This November Gallery 924 presents Marna Shopoff’s Shifting Perspectives, a solo exhibition featuring new works on canvas, linen, and paper. Shopoff creates bold, geometric abstractions that examine ideas relating to place identity and lived experiences within both the built and natural environments. 

Through reflection and intuition, Shopoff explores the visual overlap of the places we visit, the homes we live in, and the countries we explore. She expresses these visually compiled memories with expressive color to capture a certain mood, and abstraction to move through and define a physical space. She uses geometry, saturation, and transparency as her voice to reveal personal experiences within these spaces. Each piece reflects actual forms and shapes, but also the intangible memories and perceptions each viewer carries with them about a particular place.

Prior to the exhibition’s opening, the Arts Council visited Marna Shopoff’s SoBro studio and spoke with her about her new work and the evolution of her artistic process:

How did you become an artist, and what brought you to Indianapolis?


“My mother was an artist so she always encouraged my sister and I to draw, or to color, to doodle.”

Marna Shopoff, who is an Indianapolis-based visual artist known for her colorful abstract paintings, grew up in a small town in Northern Indiana. The artist says her mother, who was also artistically inclined, encouraged both she and her sister to be creative. Shopoff first learned to oil paint in high school and was encouraged by both teachers and family to pursue an art degree at Herron School of Art and Design, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2012 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in 2014.

“Each time I participate in a residency, my artwork shifts in subtle ways due to the influences of other artists I meet, the energy of the environment, and the new perspectives I gain with each new experience.”

As an undergraduate student, she participated in her first residency at the OxBow School of Art in Saugatuck, MI. The experience gave her the opportunity to meet other inspiring artists from around the country, and it sparked her interest in applying for residencies all over the world. So far in her career, Shopoff has participated in residences at The Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT), the Teton Artlab (Jackson, WY), Taliesin, The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture (Spring Green, WI), The International School of Painting Drawing and Sculpture (Umbria, Italy), and the Stutz Resident Artist Award 2014-2015. 

In addition to participating in residencies, she has taught as an adjunct professor in the Foundations and Drawing Programs at Herron. She has also led workshops and panel discussions, and received several honors and awards including an Individual Artist Award from the Indiana Arts Commission and the Mildred Darby Menz Award. She is currently represented by Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA. Visit her website to learn more.

How has your work evolved over time?


“My work has shifted from representational, to partial abstraction, to abstraction. Presently, I’m creating an interpretation of or responding to a place…and no longer creating an aesthetic representation of it.”

Like many art students, Shopoff’s work started out as representational depictions of figures interacting within a space. As she continued to develop her artistic voice, her focus shifted to architecture and the figure slowly vanished. She says that she became interested in exploring architectural spaces and historical events, and began using her explorations of space to gain a better understanding of the past by using images from the news media. While in graduate school, she began personally photographing her own source images in order to control the composition, all the while experiencing the atmosphere of the place firsthand. 

“I like to work abstractly, to create an interpretation of a space, an overlapping of various memories.”

Shopoff is currently inspired by the idea of place identity, the meaning of places and how these meanings contribute to individuals’ conceptualizations of self. She is also interested in lived experiences within both man-made and natural environments. 

“Using abstraction as a way to move through compositional space, I use the essence of the material to create the essence of a space. It is not about translating a realistic space, but capturing the essence of my experience(s) in paint. I create an interpretation of a space, not a representation of it.”

What can we expect to see in your Shifting Perspectives exhibition at Gallery 924?


“My work is about exploring compositional, personal, and experiential connections while creating an invitation for the viewer to do the same. I am interested in spatial relationships that capture an essence of a place…how we move through a space in the world and within a painting.” 

Shifting Perspectives is a new body of work. The exhibition will consist of about 25 – 30 bold, geometric abstract oil paintings that were created this year. The work presented in Shifting Perspectives at Gallery 924 captures Shopoff’s unique way of representing space where fractured planes of color and perspective imply movement and create an illusion of depth on the two-dimensional canvas. Through combining traditional painting techniques such as imprimatura, glazing, and masking with skillfully composed, overlapping shapes, she is able to create windows and doorways that lead the viewer to recollect places they have visited before.

“I am illustrating my own phenomenological experience of space…my memories are moderated and turned into an image.”

What’s next for you?


In February 2016, Shopoff’s work will be shown at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans. Later in 2016, Shopoff’s work will also be exhibited at the Miami Project during Art Basel Miami.

This December, Shopoff will be taking part in an artist residency abroad at the Leveld Art Center in Norway. After that, in 2017, she will join 16 other artists, scientists, and architects aboard the Arctic Circle Residency. Through this program, Shopoff will travel on a large three-masted sailboat to explore the concepts of phenomenology as it relates to the arctic ecosystem surrounding the North Pole and the natural architecture of the mountainous environment. Shopoff will consider how global warming effects our environments, and in turn our perceptions of place. She also plans to research ecological and nature pattern designs while exploring the geography, the ocean habitat, and life aboard the vessel.  



For More Information:

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