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Artist Profile Series: Sheila Klein

Megan Gallagher

Content Contributor

Sheila Klein, whiteheadscarf (2017), nylon mesh and aluminum.

Sheila Klein is a sculptor and public artist whose work incorporates sculpture, installation, architecture, and traditional women’s crafts. Her work has appeared in exhibitions and public collections around the world, and she has created thirteen pieces of public art since 1996, including Auburn City Hall’s Civic Lantern (2010) and Tukwila Sounder Station’s Imaginary Landscape (2014). Sheila was awarded a GAP in 2013 to assist with travel and living expenses while she worked with women from the Sarkhej Roza Mosque community on an architectural textile project in Ahmedabad, India.

In 2016, Sheila received an Arts Innovator Award recognizing her impressive body of work. I recently caught up with her to learn more about the award and her current projects.

How did the Arts Innovator Award impact your career as an artist?
It gave me visibility and increased credibility to a larger community in our region. The support of one’s peers and people from other disciplines in the arts, has great power saying “we get it -that’s invaluable.  I am not as proactive about getting out to things as I once was, so it brings more attention to my work to those that might not be aware of it.

What did the funding from the award allow you to do and/or pursue?
It has allowed me to produce an Artist Summit event, funded research, and gives me a way to travel, buy equipment and improve my studio. I have a global self- initiated project called Tabernacle that I intend to refine in order to take it forward and make it a reality.

What project(s) are you currently working on?
Always a mix, less public projects right now, more exhibitions, an artist initialed public projects (Tabernacle), theoretical architectural ideas, and my clothing line New Trade Route. Thinking a lot about how to add my skills to the current political situation in an effective way.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Don’t stop,
Listen, read and look
Shut out the voices of others.
Do what you believe in.
Take out the trash. And also dream big.

What advice do you have for artists applying for grants and awards?
Do it!  Applying for grants is something I do as an administrative task when it makes sense in the context of the work. As you do it, it teaches you about your work, and what you want to communicate. It makes you look carefully at your body of work to select the vision of how to represent.

To learn more about Sheila’s work and current projects, visit her website.

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Megan Gallagher is a writer from Redmond, Washington. She’s obsessed with libraries, art and radio, and aspires toward a future career in nonprofit communications and/or arts administration.