We had the good fortune of connecting with Shorty Greene and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shorty, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk has to be taken in order to gain anything worth having. I felt scared for a long time to take risks in my life and certainly in my career but it wasn’t until I took a big risk that I started to realize I was holding myself back. In 2008, I moved myself and my six-year-old daughter to Oakland, CA. I didn’t know anyone but I was determined to attend a school in San Francisco. It was beyond risky especially with the crime rate, lack of quality schools for a young mind, and no support system. I had to really trust the process and it was because of this risk I found so much reward and learned so much about myself.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It has not been an easy road. I create art that encompasses collage, printmaking, and photography to address identity, race, family, and notions of alterity. This is the state of being other or different. Homi Bhabha, a critical theorist, wrote, “To be different from those that are different makes you the same”. I feel like my artwork resonates with that, which is why it connects with so many.
I am an observer. So, I mine historical events, family objects. I’m layer book pages and incorporating silkscreening that delicately speak to these themes. I’m blending personal experiences and storytelling to unveil the experiences of our collective lives, both personal and cultural. I’ve come to where I’m at, through tons of rejection letters. It’s lead me to realize Noes open up more Yeses that are coming. It’s lead me to work with some amazing people. Plus, have my art shared around the world like in Dubai.
What I’ve learned is that you have to keep creating. It’s about staying true to your voice. Making work even when no one is watching!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Arizona has gorgeous sunrises. The way the colors mix in the sky some mornings makes me fall in love with Arizona. Early morning bike ride is perfect to take in the beauty. It doesn’t matter where just take a stroll. From there I’d start the weekend off with a good morning eating breakfast at Morning Squeeze in Tempe. We’d sit on the patio because the weather is always best in the AM. Next on the list is Culinary Dropout which has games, drinks, and great eats. How can you not love that! I also enjoy going to Alamo Theater. A hidden gem I’d throw into the mix is roller skating either Great Skate in Glendale for Adult Night or Skateland in Mesa. This is fun for the whole family. Ages 2 and up! For dinner, off to Joy Ride Taco House. It’s secretly my favorite date spot or Mangos Mexican cafe in Mesa. Mangos has the best nachos anywhere in the Valley.
This is my recipe for a great weekend with a bestie.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My journey wouldn’t be anything without a few key supports. When I first started out with an interest in Photography I went to get my Associates’s Degree at Mesa Community College (MCC). While there, I had an English teacher who just had so much spunk I took several of her classes. What I really gained from her was inner confidence. It was how she spoke about getting out in the world and not being held back by your own limitations. I started to think about limitations I put on myself, those that others put on me and I started to think about how I wanted to see myself in the future.
So, I started to think about places I wanted to go and photograph, projects I was interested in creating. One day after class, I stayed on campus a bit longer and decided to attend visiting school informational meet and greet. It literally changed my life. I would apply to San Franciso Art Institute & MCC student grant program and received a grant as a transfer student from MCC. This Arizona girl headed out to where the summers are cold and it’s thanks to being encouraged to no let go of limitations.
In addition to my English teacher, it would be my close friends and family that helped me when I moved to California and then again to New York State. It’s long-distance phone calls and Skype calls that helped keep me going. It’s that support that helps you run the marathon. Grey Syracuse, New York days can be the worse. So I definitely give a shout out to those folks.