Sonia Shiel received the 2014 Arts Council's Project Award, with which she completed the Art & Law Fellowship Program at Fordham Law School while participating on the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York. In 2015, she was an artist-in-residence at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and has since been awarded the Arts Council's Visual Artist Bursary, 2015. She has had recent exhibitions at the ISCP, New York, Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, The Crawford Gallery, The Lewis Glucksman Gallery and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. From June 2015, she will be working on upcoming projects in Ireland and the U.S, at the Fire Station Studios' Engine Room, Dublin.
Sonia Shiel's far-fetched installations are composed of paintings, sculptures and videos that share overarching narratives and the central materiality of paint. Set in rogue, metaphysical and pataphysical landscapes, her protagonists in their various pursuits are conflicted by nature and the laws of their own creation. Their aspirations to survive against the odds are mocked by chance and underscored with preposterous violence, obtuse props and inflated caricature.
Recent projects include Consent Volenti which pitches the legal notion of inherent risk with jocular physics through a series of painted landscapes cum' habitats. Here, hard is soft and risk as well as (in)credibility is waived. In one work, a legal document stands out from a spongy cliff edge, obtusely drawn attention to by a cookoo. The Waiver, developed during the Art and Law fellowship program at Fordham Law School, New York in 2014, is an absurd linkage between the physics of cartoons and the far-fetched intentions of art. The inherent risks it lists are compared numerically with rules of jocular physics and the viewer is reminded that these physical and mental advantages might not apply to them in real life. While Parse developed and exhibited this year in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, is the animated story of a young girl determined to bring about the return of her mother from a trip to outer space, in accordance with the laws of jocular physics under which her world is ruled. Set in a cartoon-habitat, where things fall consciously; space and distance are compressed; death is recoverable from and stars are souvenirs.The deep shadows of her moot nocturnal work for Here, while the bees are sleeping, recently shown at the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin, compresses itself and the navigation of its space and titles into a short poem on a nocturnal eternity.
Recent exhibitions include The Kevin Kavanagh Gallery; The Crawford Gallery, Cork; The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; The Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork; Rua Red, Dublin; ISCP, New York; and The Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin. Other exhibitions include The Model, Sligo; Temple Bar Gallery and Studios; Kulturbunker Kulturamt, Frankfurt; Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris; The Butler Gallery, Kilkenny; FOUR, Dublin and The RHA Gallery I and II, Dublin, The Glue Factory, Glasgow; The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin; Atelier Frankfurt and TBG+S, Dublin. Shiel has been the recipient of many competitive awards including the Hennessy Craig Award; The Tony O'Malley Award; HIAP; Centre Culturel Irlandais, the TBG+S Frankfurt exchange program and Banff Centre for the Arts, Leighton Residency Award, Canada. Her works are in public and private collections including the Arts Council of Ireland and the Office of Public Works. She is represented by the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin.