Mythology and Mixed Media – Devan Shimoyama by Jason Collins

scattered colorful knick knacks

Devan Shimoyama is an American visual artist who is known for the use of mixed media in his artwork. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1989 Shimoyama was exposed to the world of artistic expression at an early age through his mother, who studied fashion design, and his grandfather, who was a musician. 

Shimoyama went to Pennsylvania State University, where he studied as a science major for his undergraduate degree; however, he changed his course to drawing and painting while he was a junior. Shimoyama graduated in 2011 with a BFA. He then went to Yale University School of Art where he received his MFA in Painting and Printmaking. 

Shimoyama’s Distinctive Style

Shimoyama uses mixed media to create a unique and visceral display that helps draw people’s eyes to the focal point and story behind his artwork. His artwork is known to contain rhinestones and glitter to create a distance from the norms of the art world. It caries a DIY or craft signaling, but with such polish.

The characters that appear in Shimoyoma’s works of art range from members of Black American culture to drag artists. Even though Shimoyama’s work helps to analyze different “minority” groups, he often uses more than just the focal point to do that. Shimoyama uses items like fur, feathers, and jewels as a way to create diversity in the artwork. His artwork can represent how queer culture and other marginalized groups want to create their own voice that allows them to stand out and be noticed for their unique and beautiful qualities. There is a type of myth making in his art.

Shimoyama’s Artwork

Dizzy Spell (2021)

Dizzy Spell is a multi-media art piece that depicts a person that seems to be confused or “dizzy,” as the artist calls it. The prominent color of the artwork is neon yellow with red and pink highlight colors. 

The background of the art piece has red and pink stars that are made up of glitter and paint. There is also a blue and black snake that floats around the head of the character in the painting, and it is made from a glitter-type material. The artwork creates a stimulating visual picture that draws your eye to each detail, from the bright neon colors to the rhinestones, to the contrasting colors of the snake, yet creates a unique view of the person in the focal point. The lips appear to be cut out of a magazine, in a collage style that reminds of being young and cutting out pictures for a homemade poster.

Aquarian Drip (2019)

Aquarian Drip is an art piece that differs from some of Shimoyama’s catalog. This one is dark and enigmatic. The black space of the background with the purple color of the person’s skin creates a warmth and shadow, a somber mood with the colors. The background material seems to be made from black sandpaper, the grit creating a texture like multiple stars far away. In the top right corner, there is a constellation that is highlighted, and the dots have been joined. The title seems to reference the astrological sign of Aquarius, and “drip,” of course, referring to diamonds, jewelry, wealth.

The most striking features of the purple person’s face are silver rhinestone eyes and the photo cut out of plump purple glittery lips. The eyes are facing away from each maybe symbolizing they do not know where they fit into the universe, yet the glitter making this existential position seem glamorous and desirable.

Jason Collins is a freelance writer, epicure, and lover of all things human expression. While he has not had the opportunity to go to the Louvre in-person he has taken more virtual tours than he would care to remember or mention. When he is not out getting lost somewhere in the desert of Nevada he spends most of his time with his two beagles Max and Sherry.

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