The Goddess KRING
Shannon Kringen: A Goddess Speaks. Q & A on art, nudity and self-acceptance by mark storey
Shannon Kringen is an energetic Seattle artist who has been involved in may signifigant projects of interest to naturists. Known locally as "Goddess KRING", Shannon is a quiet, friendly young woman whose vivacity and energy are readily apparent in her art. Whether it's through abstract paintings of nudes, colorfully painted clothing, performance art, photography or her cable television show, Kringen exudes intensity tempered with warmth.
Her photography is best seen in assemblage, as no one image quite expresses her fully. Viewed together, however, as in large collages she assembles for her art gallery shows in Seattle @ http://www.antgallery.org , her dynamicism transcends her apparent introspection to reach audiences on multiple levels.
The video segments Kringen produces for cable TV often include themes that address naturist interests. In one program from 1999, she appears nude excapt for a gauzy veil draped over her shoulders. She talks about her body, her desire to "follow her bliss", her fears, and her relationships with people. At one point, she hopes we can be "open and honest, physically nude and intellectually-open-nude you know? I want people to look to their heart." she says, "to listen to their inner voice within and trust their joy".
Nude, she points to the muscle tone on her legs, the extra fat on her belly, the fading scars on her breats from reduction surgery, and explains that she has accepted her body, wishing to be physically healthy rather than to have the looks society demands. She likes chocolate and ice cream, but also goes for daily brisk walks and prefers to ride her bike around town rather than drive. The beauty she finds in her body and in others is personal and real. Kringen has a healthy sense of body image and respect for herself and others, and is helping advance these ideals pubilcly through her art.
Naturists in the Northwest region have been happy to get to know her, and value her contributions to the advancement of their shared goals. In an interview with N's Mark Storey, Shannon Kringen said the following about her work and her views on nudity.
NATURIST: as an artist, you work in a wide variety of media. Can you briefly describe the various artistic approaches you've taken in the last few years (e.g., painting, performance art, video, etc.)? figure model, kringwear, tv show "GoddessKRING" website and livejournal, photographer ,world traveler
SHANNON KRINGEN: i support myself full time as a figure model. i consider this an aRt form in itself...i feel like a danCer up there on the platform giving the creators something to paint/draw/sculpt...to be inspires by. when i do the longer still poses i feel more in a meditative tranCe...i find the eNeRgY soothing and relaxing...very quiet and peaceful. since 1995 i have aired a weekly public access tv show on http://www.scantv.org in seattle called "GoddessKRING" it used to be about being nude literally as a metaphor for being natural/open/honest with my guard down on all levels...it's also a way i share my spoken word aRt/music and bodypainting/danCe...it's all improvisation and filmed in my tiny one room apartment. i work best alone in video as i tend to be shy verbally in front of others...i am rather introspective...and my tv show and figure modeling help me come out of my shell and express. my newest episodes have been diGital slide shows of my travels to england, holland, and up and down the west coast...i narrate over the top and talk about the photos- my thoughts and feelings as i created the images...i critique my work...although my show is taped i feel like it's live when i record it. i usually do it non-stop for 28 minutes with no breaks. it flows better that way. i paint onto wearable art i call KringWEAR. i decorate my shoes,hats,backpacks and torso with brightly colored abstract desiGns. i wear them around seattle as much as possible. i like to spread the Kring as i say...spreading the color around...making this grey city a brighter place! i have painted in this way since 1985 when i was still in high school on whidbey island. photography is my main passion. i take 100's of photos- water reflections, landscapes, foggy/misty...i see color and texture everywhere...i am very attracted to shadows/reflections and any unusual light that i see. i shoot many self portaits in chrome that distorts my face and body...i seek to connect and express eMOTION through these images. i am looking for dynamic balanced compostions that i see as metaphor for other aspects of life. i am a very spiritually oriented person- i see my aRt as directly connected to that...in interconnectedness of all life on earth. a microcasm/macrocasm relationship... i am fascinated by the silent gaps between things. the space between the notes in music...the silent part is just as important as the sound itself...in visual aRt= the negative space surrounding the object is just as important as the "thing" itself. to me this is what spirit is "the invisible silent energy/force that connects all things". i like photograping what some don't even see- like light reflecting off things making unusual strange patterns on cement or metal...rusty, disty, foggy misty sunrays- my own face and body reflected in chrome that curVes around making me distorted as if to BEND reality. to me, it's all metaphor...i see beyond the literal- my work is very spontaneous but very thought out in terms of desiGn and composition...i shoot quickly- but look very carefully at the frame of what i capture...i show my photos monthly here= http://www.antgallery.org instead of traditionally framed photos i tend to do installations of 200 at a time 4x6 collages of a huge spectrum of images...i feel like i need to tell a story...one photo framed just doesn't do enough for me. i love variety and mixing totally different subjects together- to stimulate an emotional/intellectual response from the viewer. i love my work. photography has opened me up to life big time. i see it as an extension to my modeling. i am both photographer and model. i put all my multi media expression here= http://www.shannonkringen.com i write in an online journal everyday and share photos. i enJOY documenting my life.
NATURISM: You also do nude modeling for local painters and photographers. Aside from the income it provides you, what do you like about modeling?
SHANNON KRINGEN: i love being in such a creative healthy atmosphere. when i model for aRtists i feel very calm and peaceful. quiet and graceful. it feels very spiritual to me. being in a classroom with a group of people creating and learning feels very spiritual to me: i serve a purpose- everyone in the room shares the vibration and energy in the room. it may sound far fetched but i feel this on a visceral level. it's physics. i can feel the reality of it. i feel like i am getting paid to meditate during the long still poses. the more dynamic active "gesture" poses have me feeling more like a dancer or athlete...they usually have nice quiet ness, lively conversation about world wide travel and aRt, or wonderful music on the stereo to be inspired by. it feels like a "natural church" to me when i model. i wasn't raised religious at all...to me, what church is supposed to feel like is how i feel when i model- a sense of truth/beauty/connection to life on a deep level. i suppose modeling is my spritual practice. i suppose making art and sharing it is also my spiritual practice...meaning= it's my calling and connects me to that which is greater than myself.
NATURISM: Have you had any experience with organized naturism (or nudism)? Have you ever been to any nudist clubs or clothing-optional beaches? If so, what was your experience like?
SHANNON KRINGEN: i spent sometime in amsterdam holland around nudists at a spa and found it very refreshing to be with people very open, natural and vulnerable with each other. i was involved with a performance aRt piece by chinese artists zhang huan in 1999 at the seattle asian art museum. me and 49 others (mostly nudists) did a performance in front of many...it was very political...many of us cried at the end...i felt very comfortable in that setting. it very healing to be nude in a museum like that and have it filmed and photographed and shared with many in a public way. i have not really done formal nudist events...but i feel very drawn to it...i am mostly focused on my art projects and i spend a lot of time alone or one on one with close friends. i spent a day at a nudist colony in issaquah (what is it called?) and felt very happy there swimming nude in the pool and soaking in the jacuzzi. very kind people were there. it's surrounded by tall green trees. very lovely setting. i feel more alive and in touch with myself when nude outdoors.
NATURISM: You had a role as a nude usher and nude extra in the Body Freedom Collaborative's September 2003 theatrical production of the Free Beach Trilogy. Can you describe how that went and what you thought of being nude while passing out play programs to the theater audience?
SHANNON KRINGEN: it was so fun doing that! i felt so "normal" doing that! my concern was the audience being afraid to look at us! i wanted them to feel free to look at our bodies and know it's fine. we are natural human beings and don't need to hide and be modest and feel shame or fear or like we need to look perfect...i very much enjoyed being part of that play and would love to do more performance in the nude as way of helping people be more natural and free and alive! although i DO spend so much time naked that it feels good at the end of the day to put on my pajamas and be clothed! it's exotic for me to be dressed!
NATURISM: Many who are aware of your work know you through your cable TV show. Can you describe your work for this show and how viewers have responded to it? In particular, do you find that most people "get" what you are doing with nudity in the show, or do you get the sense that many are just looking to see images of a naked woman?
SHANNON KRINGEN: over the years i have received every possible kind of feedback you could imagine- some fixate of my nudity as: .sexually provocative .rebellious/shock value .political statement .attention grabber .metaphor for being natural on other levels .spontaneous creation for experimental purposes i see my show as all of these...but mostly a desire to be free and open and express what is deep inside me that wants to come out.
NATURISM: In some of your video work and performance art you address issues pertaining to nudity and body acceptance. Can you explain why nudity has been an important theme in your work? What place do you think it should have in society? Would there be any advantages-in your opinion-to their being a more tolerant and relaxed attitude towards the naked human body?
SHANNON KRINGEN: i wouldn't want to push nudism on anyone- but i also don't like "clothism" being pushed on anyone! all other animals in nature are nude 24/7 humans are the only ones who cover themselves. it's true we have no fur so we need to stay warm somehow! i DO think people are kinder to one another when naked! it does literally lift a barrier and let people feel their vulnerability more clearly. i feel more honest when nude. i have mixed feelings...being self contained can be a good thing- i wouldn't want to be nude 24 hours a day- but as a practice of being more open to life- part time it feels good.
i feel humans would be healthier psychologically if they had more acceptance towards nature overall...the imperfections of their bodies as well as in nature the way trees grow crooked- not perfectly straight. nothing is perfectly anything! it's all related...plants,animals,humans. imagine politicians sitting nude in the oval office conducting a meeting on economic or environmental issues! it seems to me they would have different words exchanged...i truly wonder what would be the result? there is an aRtist i greatly admire named http://www.hundertwasser.com and he was not a nudist but he had a theory about being in harmony with nature and how humans should not use straight lines in architecture...he designed buildings with plants growing inside them and waterfalls...and crooked organic floors/tiles and one of a kind size and shaped windows. i think nudism/naturism lines up with this philiosophy.
i resonate with that on a deep level. i don't necessarily need to be nude to feel this openness and harmony with the ecosystem and all of nature...but it helps... because we are repressed in this culture- we have become obsessed with our bodies- wanting them to be perfect looking...wanting to live forever and not age...or seeing the body as sexual objects and not whole human beings...body/mind/heart/soul. it's a paradox that if we were more open to our sensuality/natural bodies we would be less obessed with sex and perfection...(i think anyway!)it would no longer be the "forbidden fruit" and we could focus our eNergY elsewhere...in a more balanced way!
For more information on Shannon and her artwork see: www.shannonkringen.com
THE GODDESS KRING: Shannon Kringen my interview on pages 77-80
COPYRIGHT 2004 THE NATURIST SOCIETY LLC
published in naturist magazine issue 24.1 autumn 2004 COPYRIGHT 2004 THE NATURIST SOCIETY LLC
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