Beth Shook was born on Christmas Eve, 1963 in Jeanette, Pennsylvania. Still, she considers herself a native of the southwest, having lived her most reckless and influential years in El Paso, Texas. Growing up in El Paso, she discovered a love for history, culture, the border and the desert. Nothing beats the smell of rain on the hot desert in summer.
Ms. Shook attended the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP); initially majoring in English literature and fine arts. Just eighteen hours shy of completion, she dropped the English degree for lack of time and money. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from UTEP in 1985. Under the instruction of the most accomplished professors, she developed skills as a craftsman, found a love for clay and a near obsession with the drawn line. That drawing obsession turned to compulsion as the clay became the canvas during graduate school at Arizona State University (ASU). A brief exposure to printmaking processes as an undergraduate would work its way into her clay. Indeed, that near complete English degree didn’t go to waste as the work became increasingly more narrative. Those lines developed into images. The images led to stories. She conferred her Masters of Fine Arts in ceramics from ASU in 1990.
Ms. Shook’s work is motivated by her faith in Jesus Christ and the point at which it intersects with life. Though sometimes appearing disconnected, they create one story – autobiographic, adopted into her life, her narrative. Each encounter elicits a reaction to communicate to others. Because she is assured that her world view is not singular, the narrative becomes allegory. Others are invited to join her story, fully aware of potential conflict and distance as well as comfort and familiarity.
She continues to draw on clay, whether compulsively or obsessively, to tell her story. There is nothing better than to share your story in such a way as to find connection with another person, to come to some level of understanding. Well, nothing except maybe the smell of rain on the hot desert.
Undone In The Pursuit of Wild Hares, 2013 clay, wood, found objects 39x45x4
Undone In The Pursuit of Wild Hares – detail
Why Do You Make So Much of Me?, 2015clay, wood, found objects
Why Do You make So Much of Me? - detail