Shanna Merola is a visual artist and documentary photographer. Over the past five years she has been a human rights observer for social justice movements across the country – from the struggle for water rights in Detroit and Flint, Michigan – to the frontlines of uprisings in Ferguson, MO and Standing Rock, ND. Her collages and constructed landscapes are informed by these events – from direct actions against fracking companies to the privatization of water both globally and locally.
Merola has been a lecturer and visiting artist at the Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities, Cranbrook Academy of Art, the University of Richmond Department of Art and Art History and the School of Visual and Performing Arts at the University of Toledo. Her work has been published by the Humble Arts Foundation, Art 21 Magazine, Wayne State University Press and Nat.Brut. She has been awarded studio residencies at The MacDowell Colony and the Santa Fe Art Institute, and fellowships through the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. Merola holds an MFA in Photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA in Photo and Film from Virginia Commonwealth University.
We All Live Downwind
The images in We All Live Downwind are culled from daily headlines – inspired by both global and grassroots struggles against the forces of privatization in the face of disaster capitalism. In The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein writes about the free market driven exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries saying “the original disaster—the coup, the terrorist attack, the market meltdown, the war, the tsunami, the hurricane — puts the entire population into a state of collective shock”. And that “shocked societies often give up things they would otherwise fiercely protect”. The scenes in We All Live Downwind, have been carved out of dystopian landscapes in the aftermath of that shock.
On the surface, rubble hints at layers of oil and shale, cracked and bubbling from the earth below. Rising from another mound, rows of empty mobile homes bake beneath the summer sun. The bust of small towns left dry in the aftermath of supply and demand. In this place, only fragments of people remain, their mechanical gestures left tending to the chaos on auto. Reduced to survival, their struggle against an increasingly hostile environment goes unnoticed. Beyond the upheaval of production a bending highway promises never ending expansion – and that low rumble you hear to the west is getting louder.
To view more of Shanna’s work please visit her website.