Shannon Woodloe


Visual Arts: Photography

By: Gail Obenreder

Shannon Woodloe is a storyteller, but instead of words she tells tales with her striking visual images. Woodloe works from “an essential appreciation for life, always looking to gain knowledge from it and then share it through my lens.” The Delaware native lives in Wilmington, but her images take her far afield, and most recently she’s been creating her photographic narratives from the world and works of writers she admires.

Woodloe’s commitment to narrative photography is grounded in the example of her mother, who “always had a camera” and shared the family’s history in the evocative, inspiring photographs that went back through the generations. “As I got older and looked back on my own photos, I found stories . . . that I didn’t remember but were imbedded in the pictures.”

Sarah Emerges, 2018, 11 x 14 inches
I Kin Read, 2018, 11 x 14 inches
Big Starry Sky, 2018, 10 x 10 inches
Remembering Isaiah, 2018, 10 x 10 inches

“My goal is to capture the humanity of the human and the natural occurrence of beauty,” and one of Woodloe’s biggest challenges has been to find a way to “document without exploiting.” In this pursuit, she was inspired by her study of Gordon Parks, the great photographer and documentarian whose compositions she values for their “authenticity and their intention.” She is also inspired by Carrie Mae Weems, who moves her to “tell my story.” And Woodloe has been deeply affected by studying at The Barnes Foundation, finding that their method of providing extended artwork viewing experiences supported her efforts to “tell whole stories with my own compositions.”

Woodloe’s latest photography seeks to document “the silent oration or story of my subjects at a particular moment in time.” Her Fellowship submission was a photographic illustration series from “Sarah, I Kin Read,” a chapter of Lorraine Hansberry’s To Be Young, Gifted and Black. With her Division award, Woodloe plans to upgrade her equipment so she can take on more challenging projects, including creating narratives from the works of some literary heroes, authors Toni Morrison, Richard Wright and W.E.B. DuBois.

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