Warning: foreach() argument must be of type array|object, string given in /mnt/phxart_staging/public_html/wp-content/themes/phoenix-art-museum/inc/template-functions.php on line 313 Shaunté Glover: In Her Own Words
Shaunté Glover: In Her Own Words
Feb, 23, 2021
Shaunté Glover: In Her Own Words
Shaunté Glover’s portraits feel like home, and if you’ve ever seen her work, you’ll know exactly what we mean. The stillness, the warmth, the tenderness of her compositions—all of it reminds us of leisurely days spent inside with a sister, a friend, a new lover, talking over tea or listening to music or sitting in silence, hearing the world. Her photos resonate, and perhaps more importantly, they linger.
A Phoenix transplant, Shaunté received a BFA in photography from Arizona State University and has since built a portfolio of works documenting local creatives, her loved ones, the list goes on. We recently spoke with the photographer and filmmaker to learn more about her path to becoming a working artist and what inspires her to create.
Here’s Shaunté Glover, in her own words.
“It feels like the more I grow and understand myself, the more I understand human behavior, or at least the more I can empathize with it.”
Shaunté Glover, Home II, 2020. Digital image. Courtesy of the artist.
PhxArt: Tell us about who you are. Where are you from, and did you always want to be an artist?
Shaunté Glover: I was born in Mobile, Alabama, to a guy named Rick and a lady named Twyla, or, as I like to call them, Mom and Dad. They split before I entered kindergarten, which led my mom, who is originally from here, back to Arizona—South Phoenix specifically—with us kids in tow. To this day, I think of South Phoenix fondly and as home.
I was a pretty sheltered kid who just wanted to be good, get good grades, and make sure my mom was okay. My parents’ expectations of me were always present but existed in very different ways. My mom was chill, and my dad was not as chill. With that being said, I am more like my dad than my mom, for whatever that’s worth.
In terms of career paths, there were the occasional lighthearted jokes from my mom about being a doctor, but it was never taken seriously. Then there were the subtle mentions of the benefits of a military career from my dad. I mention that to clarify that although there were perceived expectations “to be somebody,” I wasn’t steadfastly held to one specific thing, although I knew artist wasn’t on either of their lists of potential careers for me.
Shaunté Glover, Black Ballet, 2019. Digital still from short film. Courtesy of the artist.
PhxArt: How, then, did you arrive at photography and begin on the path to becoming a working artist?
Glover: I fell in love with photography when I was pretty young. I was in elementary school when I discovered the wonders of disposable cameras and the option to order “doubles” at Walgreens when I returned a camera for post-processing.
I studied photography through all four years of high school, which led me to pursue a degree in fine art photography at Arizona State University (ASU). It was at ASU where I really learned what visual storytelling was and that I had been doing it all along. I placed myself in an environment where I had to conceptualize, create, be critiqued, and thus be forced to learn more about my innate storytelling abilities and characteristics. I remember my first year in photo class at ASU with Nadia Sablin as my instructor. It was in a basement classroom in a building whose name I cannot remember, and I witnessed my work up on display and recognized the quiet, the solitude, and the calm—all things I still see in my work today.
I didn’t expect to be a working artist. I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into, to be honest. I just hoped that choosing a major that I was actually interested in would pay off (figuratively and literally) in the long run. It was encouraging to read about and study artists and their work and know that “the dream” was possible. In that same vein, it was difficult to see very few examples of people who look like me making a living off of their work. A wonderful trend around the time I graduated focused on articles sharing the average annual incomes of college degrees. If I could summarize what every article said about my degree, it would sound a little something like, “BFA Annual Salary—N/A. You made a mistake. You went into debt in order to not make money. How’s that feel? You alright? No? Yea, I get that… Good luck, though.”
In spite of the hardships that can come with being a working artist of color, a woman of color, and a photographer who wants to show their work publicly, I know that I made the right decision. As corny as it might sound, I create because I have to. It’s one of the main ways I communicate.
Shaunté Glover, Merryn, 2019. 120 film. Courtesy of the artist.
PhxArt: What are the primary media you work in, and what subjects or topics do you focus on?
Glover: I work primarily with photography (digital and film) and video. Writing is something that has always piqued my interest, and before the pandemic shut the world down, I had joined a writing group with a lovely bunch of ladies at Palabras Bookstore. It’s still something I am interested in pursuing and learning more about. It just requires a little bit more internal fighting to quell the overthinking.
People are usually what my work revolves around. Portraits, concepts, personal stories, documentation—it’s people for me. It feels like the more I grow and understand myself, the more I understand human behavior, or at least the more I can empathize with it.
PhxArt: Who are your greatest artistic influences?
Glover: In school, I gravitated toward the work of Carrie Mae Weems, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, and Barbara Kruger. As social media, content creation, and influencer culture started to arise, I found Levi Maestro (Maestroknows), Sarah McColgan, Vashtie, and 13th Witness, who opened my eyes to what’s possible on your own. I also have the honor of being in proximity to local phenoms like Shanice Malakai, Carla Chavarria, and Giovana Aviles. And when it comes to aspirations, what’s possible, and the reason why representation is important, I chant, “Ava. Shonda. Lena. Issa. Melina.”
Shaunté Glover, Heather, 2020. iPhone image. Courtesy of the artist.
PhxArt: What’s something you’re currently working on or have recently exhibited?
Glover: I had my first solo show—“softly”—last year with Visions Gallery in Chandler. It was interesting to have a gallery show during a pandemic, but now it’s a cool-ish story. I do want to show my work in galleries a lot more and learn the ins and outs of that life. Put it out into the universe, right? Or be careful what you wish for—haha?
PhxArt: What can our community expect to see next from you?
Glover: Work. You can expect to see work. Overthinking, imposter syndrome, fear-based decision making—the only thing that seems to combat them is doing the work. “Good work,” “bad work,” etc.—all of it is important. Specifically, this year you will see more portraits, self-portraits, short films, mini projects on Instagram, and collaborations with my best friend and local coffee roaster Aziz Jones.
Shaunté Glover, Michelle via FaceTime, 2020. Screenshot image. Courtesy of the artist.
We’re curious how creatives are navigating the time of coronavirus. Shaunté Glover shares what’s giving her life as a creative during quarantine.
Glover: I recently purchased two RC Cars, and I love them. I bought the pair so I could race with my friends. It’s really fun and has given me an opportunity to spend time with people I care about, focus on the simple things, and fulfill my competitive side. I’m definitely getting another one soon that can handle all-terrain! Also, not to name drop or anything, but the rumors are true. Phoenix artist extraordinaire Estrella Esquilín and I are friends, and we joyfully play Bananagrams in the park.
Shaunté Glover, Home IV, 2020. Digital image. Courtesy of the artist.