"The sultry Mississippi blues song 'Mojo Fixed' with its upbeat, energetic steel guitar was great fun for me to paint to. Since I've no feeling in one of my hands, and I paint only with my fingers, I love creating unusual textures and effects and since I saw a modern tango danced to this song - so the streaks of gold, silver, rust and pearl are the movements of those dancers across the stage. 'Mojo Fixed' was painted using my fingers and knuckles both on top of and also from underneath the painting. No brushes or instruments were used."
- Shana Stern
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“Bent over canvas, covered in paint, I feel no pain or worries. I still get to tell stories- using paint, I still dance- using my fingers.”
L.A.-based artist Shana Stern has developed a unique painting style in a very short period of time. She began painting in 2012 when she could no longer work as a writer or express herself through dance as she had done her entire life. Shana has transformed her love of music, dance, and storytelling into a lyrical painting style that is marked by kinetic energy, movement, and unusual textures.
Shana was assisting a feature director when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1999. No longer able to maintain the demanding position, she tapped into a different part of her creativity and became a working screenwriter. Over time and due to her M.S. Shana’s vision became impaired - something she still battles with daily along with pain and fatigue. No longer able to write of edit - she was again put at a crossroads.
A dancer since age three, Shana was still dancing four hours a day when in 2012 she tore her ankle. Being stuck at home, in pain, and unable to do the two things she loved most, dancing and writing, Shana tried painting. Unable to feel anything in her right hand due to her M.S. she kept dropping the paintbrush - ruining what she was working on. Finally, thanks to some creative ingenuity, Shana developed her own style of painting using no brushes or tools - instead using her fingers and knuckles to her the paint dance across the canvas.
Her passion for music has also played a vital role in Shana’s art. Each painting is inspired by and created to the soundtrack of a single song which she listens to on repeat until it’s complete. Shana was born Chromesthesia, where music triggers the experience of moving colors in her mind. This condition was one of the reasons dancing and choreography came so natural for Shana. Now, instead of turning the dancing colors she experiences into choreography, Shana interprets the lighting, costumes, style of dance and choreography she sees in her brain, onto the canvas - creating a visceral fluidity of movement and emotion in each piece.
Shana is a strong believer in the healing and transformative power of art, “I had no idea of the depth, effectiveness, and power that creating art can be to someone who is suffering, or is in pain. Not only can I attest to my own experience with it - how the only time I forget about my own health challenges and my own problems is when I'm leaning over a piece, covered in paint- but I have also seen how it's helped many, many others who deal with physical and mental challenges in life.”
ArtLifting champions artists impacted by homelessness or disabilities through the celebration and sale of their artwork. Learn more here.