At Home: Ethel Shipton

This Q&A series was born out of an effort to feel more connected and learn up-to-date information artists and curators across the country. Every week, creators from across different disciplines share their new projects, quarantine hobbies and what gives them hope about art today.

Ethel Shipton is currently working and living in San Antonio, Texas.

Is there a particular project for work, either new or ongoing, that is capturing your attention?

I’ve been working on some new prints, that are in a show at Ruiz-Healy Gallery here in San Antonio.  I just finished a few commissions for a project in Austin and for a project here in San Antonio.

I am also preparing an outdoor wall on my studio building for a rotating mural project in which wall imagery will change out every 3 months.  

All the while, I am collecting oral histories from local artists as an ongoing project.

Have you picked up any new hobbies over the past 6 months? 

I‘ve started running three times a week, learned to make orange marmalade and am going through an enchilada cookbook trying to master the full range of enchiladas. I also figured out how to repair our lawnmower.

Our worlds have become much more localized due to COVID-19. Has your local environment or community shaped your work?

My environment and community have always shaped my work.

The only change is that I now have more time and attention to consider how my community is relevant to a bigger picture. I’ve been thinking about how history is shifting and how we look at art and what artworks are important to reflect our world today and as we move toward the future.

What (or who) have you looked to for strength and inspiration in these uncertain times?

I get my strength from the few friends and family I see in my pod.

I am getting my inspiration from visits to the family ranch in Encinal, TX. While there we do some fishing, take long walks and hunt arrowheads. There are memorable sunsets, big star skies and visible full moons.

What’s the best thing you’ve read, watched or heard over the past 6 months?

Early on I was rereading a lot of James Baldwin which was important to remind myself of where we are and how much of what’s going on today with racism and hatred has been going on for a very long time. 

I’ve also been listening to a few podcasts like: Dolly Parton’s AmericaRevisionist HistoryFinding Fred (about Mr. Rogers); Hidden BrainPod save America; and Code Switch.

What I’ve watched in the last months: The Forty-Year-Old VersionTaco Chronicles; and Fargo. Plus, I can’t help but watch the political news.

What are your hopes for the future?

True change, that our organizations, institutions and governments are able to imagine a better way to move forward. To not return to what was “back to normal.”  I mean the “normal” that left out more than half of our population in fair pay and health care, safe housing and three meals a day.  My hope for us is to imagine what could be, what should be and to bring that into being.