Meet Shawna X, Artist of First-Ever Roadside Gantry Art


October 24, 2023

This October, the Hudson Square BID unveiled “We’re Freeing Ourselves” by Shawna X, the first-ever artwork adorning a city roadway gantry.

Shawna X is a visual artist based in New York City. Known for abstract, bold, and vibrant use of color and motifs, and drawing on personal and culturally-nuanced experiences, Shawna‘s work explores themes of identity, creativity, and motherhood, often utilizing multimedia and public spaces as mediums for expression. Shawna graciously shared with us a reflection on the project:

What inspired the concept behind We’re Freeing Ourselves?This artwork was created during the height of pandemic in 2020, so the desire of expansion and freedom was very necessary during this time. I wanted to be out in the world again, dancing, relaxing, enjoying with others, and during that time period when we were isolated, it was a good reminder of everything to feel grateful for. I envisioned this canvas overflowing with delight and feelings of hope.

“The figures fling themselves joyfully into a world of color, beauty and jubilation.”

They are larger than life, celebrating their collective humanity, bursting with resilience and standing tall.Did you consider the surrounding environment in the creative process?I am drawn to elements of nature, from the color changes of the season, to a deep breath of fresh, crisp air. I wanted to bring this specific sentiment to the city, especially above traffic where, let’s just be real, can be tense.How do you envision people engaging with your art in this public space?I hope they look up, and take a breath.What messages or emotions do you hope viewers will take away from your work?Communicating and connection, above all else, will save us.What impact do you think public art can have on the community?I think public art evokes humanity, it is often where we subconsciously gather, holding an energetically space to hold community. It’s a reminder of our humanness.How does this piece reflect your own artistic journey and style?I am drawn to vibrant, striking colors as it is the palette in which I connect to my inner child. I believe the more I create for her, the more I can heal and also share my journey.

Hudson Square

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