Spotlight: Tulsa Artist Shane Darwent Creates Haunting Totems From Storefront Awnings

The artist's solo exhibition "Sun Smoke" is currently on view at Spencer Brownstone Gallery in New York.

Installation view
Installation view "Shane Darwent: Sun Smoke" 2021. Courtesy of Spencer Brownstone Gallery.

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About the Artist: Texas native and Tulsa-based artist Shane Darwent (b. 1983) finds his inspiration along American roadways. He works references to these overwhelmingly scaled scenes—from storefront awnings to industrial buildings—into his photographic works, large-scale sculptures, and installations. “Sun Smoke,” his second solo exhibition with Spencer Brownstone Gallery in New York, showcases Darwent’s monolithic awning compositions in both assembled and disassembled states. 

What We Like About It: The exhibition’s title refers to the observed appearance of smoke radiating from an eclipsed sun, and the title aptly captures elements of Darwent’s at once sublime and unnerving art. On view are his “Noctures,” a group of works made from black storefront awnings that sometimes stand totemically at human height. Light emanates from them at unexpected angles, giving the massive, hulking sculptures an almost celestial lightness. One sees references to the great American Minimalist sculptors Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, and Tony Smith, but the effect is not one of emulation alone. The storefronts, stripped of their commercial function, become marquees of another sort, marking a space between our current moment and an unknown future. 

What the Artist Says: “This exhibition was an opportunity to get really intimate with one specific mode of production. In past projects, I’ve shown work that spans photography, sculpture, painting, and installation simultaneously. With those exhibitions, I wanted to ask questions about our built landscape from every conceivable angle—with every medium and material at my disposal. By paring down my palette and my process with Sun Smoke, I feel like the questions I was exploring had a chance to expand. The work is still interested in illuminating the uncanny in the American built vernacular, but it’s equally interested in illumination more broadly, notions of light and dark, interior versus exterior, levity and gravity.”

See images of the artist’s works below.

Installation view "Shane Darwent: Sun Smoke" 2021. Courtesy of Spencer Brownstone Gallery.

Installation view “Shane Darwent: Sun Smoke” 2021. Courtesy of Spencer Brownstone Gallery.

Installation view "Shane Darwent: Sun Smoke" 2021. Courtesy of Spencer Brownstone Gallery.

Installation view “Shane Darwent: Sun Smoke” 2021. Courtesy of Spencer Brownstone Gallery.

Installation view “Shane Darwent: Sun Smoke” 2021. Courtesy of Spencer Brownstone Gallery.

Installation view "Shane Darwent: Sun Smoke" 2021. Courtesy of Spencer Brownstone Gallery.

Installation view “Shane Darwent: Sun Smoke” 2021. Courtesy of Spencer Brownstone Gallery.

“Shane Darwant: Sun Smoke” is on view at Spencer Brownstone Gallery through February 12, 2022.


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