Rising Stars: Shannon Knowlton

About Shannon

Shannon is a mixed media and fiber artist living in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a child, she spent summers with her grandmother, digging through drawers of old textiles, sewing scraps, and embroidering old quilt blocks. She has happy memories bonding with her grandmother over these heirloom textiles, learning the history (or “HER-story”) behind these pieces that the women in her family had created.  Shannon has worked with textiles for most of her life, quilting, knitting, crocheting, and embroidering. However, she took a pause during her college years, and gave up her stitching for a degree in psychology. However, after the birth of her children, her creativity could be contained no more and began to spill into every area of her life. She has embraced it ever since.

Artist Statement

From my little garden studio, I currently work in mixed media with thread, beads, and found materials. Sustainability is important to me so I try to mostly use discarded objects from my own home. I weave my background in textiles into my mixed media pieces with my use of cross-stitch and embroidery. I create my backgrounds using many layers of texture-rich collage materials.  I choose needlework to express myself to pay homage to the women who have been stitching for centuries. They are all artists whose craft was often overlooked. I celebrate their traditional needlework in my pieces.

I am inspired by a reverence for nature, self-love, and the female experience. I am currently interested in the intersection between art and therapeutic psychology. Art can help us connect to our inner selves and process hard feelings. It is a powerful route to growth and healing. My latest work is about this journey. My hope is that others will be able to see some of their own struggles in my art. By sharing pieces of my journey, I want my art to make others feel seen and validated and LOVED, and I want it to inspire feelings of hope.

The Next Chapter, 2023
Mixed Media with Embroidery, 12 in x 12 inches

“What if this season of big change leads to new and beautiful things?” This mixed media work was created by collage and embroidery using junk mail, vintage book pages, tea bags, thread, beads, and sequins.  As with all of the girls in my series, she wears a flower crown as a symbol of feminine strength and our ties to the earth. Colorful butterflies celebrate her personal growth, or metamorphosis. The background is comprised with various book pages, highlighting words and phrases that make reference to change.

The collage base for this piece is rich with layers of papers, fabric, ephemera, book pages, and even a tea bag or two. With her hands in the soil, surrounded by bees, butterflies, and birds, she feels a deep connection to herself and to the world around her. The text reads, “I am truly a child of the earth”, a gentle reminder to us all. She wears a crown of sunflowers, and is encircled by flowers and greenery, which I lovingly hand-stitched.

Garden Girl, 2023
Mixed Media with Embroidery, 12 in x 12 inches
Smart is Pretty, 2023
Mixed Media with Embroidery, 11 x 14 inches

This piece began with a mirror I hung in my infant daughter’s room years ago. Engraved in the mirror were the words, “Smart Is Pretty”. It’s important to raise our girls into women who value in themselves their ability to think critically, solve problems, and understand the world around them. This is a reminder that their worth worth does not lie in their outer package but in what is between their ears.

The collage base is primarily made from STEM textbooks. I stitched through the book pages with traditionally feminine flowers, beading, and parts of vintage jewelry. My girls always have a flower crown, but this crown is  EXTRA to celebrate her beautiful brain.

Sometimes it’s hard to feel everything so deeply. Navigating and processing the world with grace when we experience things intensely can be a challenge. But here is what I have to come to learn: big feelers have an extraordinary capacity for love. It’s their gift to the world.

The collage base was made from old book pages on american navigation. I specifically chose pages featuring instructions on how to steer your way through cyclonic storms. Sometimes her mind feels chaotic and like she has too much buzzing within her brain. But there is beauty and even magic in the buzzing if you can learn to chart your course.

Beautiful Chaos, 2023
Mixed Media with Embroidery, 11 x 17 inches
Resilient As A Wildflower, 2023
Mixed Media with Embroidery,12 in x 12 in

This piece honors the strength of women and our ties to the natural world. I’m always in awe when I see a bright orange California poppy bloom from a crack in the cement. What a metaphor for life!  No matter how brutal the winter, in the spring, those beautiful wildflowers rise up and bloom. I see so many similarities between women and nature and this is one of them. Women are STRONG. We have to be. And we are beautiful in so many ways.  No matter what life may throw at us, we will get back up and we shine. 

For more information about the artist, please visit:

Instagram: @shannonknowltonartist

All photographs courtesy of Shannon Knowlton
© Copyright 2023 Suboart Magazine
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