Shanna Strauss is a Tanzanian-American artist living and working in in Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyaang (Montreal). She completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the California College of Arts and has exhibited in solo and group shows in Tanzania, Canada, the U.S and Senegal. Recently her work was shown in Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, The Black Woman is God: Divine Revolution at SomArts in San Francisco and When She Rises at SPARC Gallery in Los Angeles. Last year, she was one of 9 women artists invited to participate in Unceded Voices Anti-Colonial Street Artists Convergence in Montreal. Her work has been featured in documentaries and several publications, including CBC Arts, M – Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Magazine and Americana Journal.
In conjunction with her art practice, Shanna has engaged in community work and organizing for over 10 years, working with diverse youth groups in different countries. In 2014, she completed a Master of Social Work degree at McGill University with a focus on International and Community Development. Integrating arts-based programs and interventions in her community work, Shanna believes passionately in the power of art to create individual, community and social change.
As a Tanzanian-American, biracial, bilingual woman, I have always been interested in the reality of having to navigate multiple identities, geographic locations, histories and cultures. Using a mixed media approach, I currently explore themes related to identity and belonging; what we as people of the African Diaspora bring with us when we settle in new locations, and how we inform the social fabric of the place we now call home. Within a North American context, the personal stories and societal contributions of Black individuals are often left out of public narratives. I am compelled to share these stories through the visual medium.
The work I create is deeply personal to me and in turn, is informed by my political positionality. As a Black woman, feminist, community worker, and artist, my identity is multi-faceted and has been shaped by the people I have encountered and who have empowered me throughout my life. The photographs I use in my work are predominately images of people who represent a part of me and the different communities I am connected to. The people I portray tell a part of my story and are threads in the web of my kinship and the broader Diaspora.