We had the good fortune of connecting with Shannon Rae Fincke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shannon Rae, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I am an artist and mother of three daughters—as well as an art educator and administrator living and working in Los Angeles. I am the Founder and Director of Institute for Visual Arts, a community based art school for children, teens and adults. I began a full-time teaching career right out of graduate school and have directed programs and instructed art for over twenty years in a wide variety of capacities; and I founded the Institute for Visual Arts in 2011. Prior to founding Institute for Visual Arts (IVA), I designed and implemented original PreK-12 art programs in numerous schools and nonprofit organizations and instructed visual arts to students of all ages and levels in a wide variety of capacities. What led to my founding my own art school was my mission to provide a comprehensive art education program in a community setting for children, teens and adults and to help fill the void left by city, state and federal budget cuts that severely diminished arts programs in public schools. I consider the study of art a core subject area integral to a student’s complete education and imperative in fostering creativity, self-expression, and independent and critical thinking skills—and I created IVA in order to provide an outstanding substantive visual arts program as a powerful tool in enriching the educational experiences of students and offers a multifaceted art education of the highest quality in my community. IVA is dedicated to inspiring and enriching the lives of students of all ages through the study of art and the advancement of visual arts in our greater community and society.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
In addition to directing Institute for Visual Arts, I also maintain a full time art practice. I work my own studio time around my teaching/administrator schedule and being a mother of three. Therefore I paint at all sorts of hours, whenever I can fit it in—which demands a lot of juggling—and early mornings and late nights! I make most of my own work in the IVA studio—painting there when classes are not in session, but due to needing to be at home with my children outside of my regular hours there, I also make a lot of work at home. There are many various aspects to my busy life and schedule as an artist/educator/administrator—and mother—and although I love every part of each of those things, it has never been easy to juggle it all or to get to where I am today professionally. Anything but easy! But I have always had boundless passion, energy, commitment and stamina–and I am stubbornly determined, so I refuse to give up! I teach five days a week and love every minute of it–and I also paint every day, every chance I can get! My art practice includes a lot of drawing, some collage and printmaking, and primarily water-based painting on various surfaces such as paper, yupo, film, claybord and canvas. In 2020, while living in quarantine with my family of five and conducting all IVA classes remotely over zoom, I embarked on a new series of figurative paintings about motherhood during the pandemic. In 2021, I branched off of that to start a related series about my family history in tandem. My focus went deeply inward toward the interconnectivity within my immediate family as well as ancestral lineage. My work is in private and public collections throughout the US, has been exhibited in solo and group shows at museums and galleries on both coasts, and has been featured in print, film, and television. Notable past exhibits include shows at Brand Library and Art Center and Angeles Gate Cultural Center in Los Angeles.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
As you might imagine, I don’t have much free time for going out, but I have plenty of favorite spots to take anyone visiting me in Los Angeles–now my home of 20 years–I moved here from NYC in 2002! I would start by sharing some of my regular outdoor rituals of hiking in Griffith Park and walking the Silverlake Reservoir. I would take my company to the Silverlake Meadow for a picnic and we would definitely stroll around and browse all the independent shops in my beloved trio of neighborhoods of Silverlake, Los Feliz and Atwater. I would take them to Barnsdall Art Park, a movie at The Los Feliz 3, and a concert at The Greek and/or The Hollywood Bowl. Definitely need to go downtown to hit the galleries and museums and attend a performance at The Walt Disney Concert Hall. We’d have to go to MOCA, The Broad, The Getty and LACMA. And then of course we’d have to take a long windy scenic drive all around and through LA, ending up at the ocean, where we’d drive up the coast and finally rest on the beach in Malibu.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My father is a writer, professor and the director of a university creative writing program and my mother is an elementary teacher and K-12 gifted education specialist. Raised in an artistic and academic home, I naturally gravitated to both creating and teaching. My childhood home was filled with records, books and artwork my parents collected, we attended all of the cultural events available to us at the local universities, and vacations for my family were centered around visiting college towns and cities and browsing in bookstores, record stores and museums. Not only were my parents supportive of my being an artist, they enthusiastically nurtured and encouraged me every step of the way—and still do to this day! When I was in elementary school my father taught in the summers at the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts—a prestigious and rigorous immersive program for talented high school juniors and seniors. I would go there to watch all of the students’ culminating events and performances each summer and I remember viscerally that I knew in my bones that I just had to be one of those kids when I was their age—at that time I didn’t know exactly which type of arts I would pursue or be most talented at—but yet I knew that I was a creative and most definitely some sort of artist! As a child I loved to perform, write, take photographs and draw—and I made a promise to myself during one of those fateful performances I was in the audience for, that one way or the other, I would also go to the Governor’s School when I was old enough! In my junior year of high school, when it had become clear that I was most committed to the visual arts—I applied and got in! This experience set me firmly on my course for a lifetime as a visual artist. I went on to get a bachelor’s degree in studio art and a master’s in painting and art education. In between college and grad school I did an internship in museum education at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery, which was also critically instrumental in my development and decisions to pursue a career as both an artist and art educator. There are many other important influences as well, but I will always primarily credit my amazingly supportive and generous parents, who’ve helped me immeasurably in myriad ways throughout my life, and also have doubled as mentors to me in my career as an artist and educator and administrator.
Instagram: @InstituteforVisualArts and @ShannonRaeFincke