Shani Shih is a multidisciplinary visual artist, teaching artist and organizer based in Washington DC. She works primarily in painting, illustration, and public art, and draws heavy influence from hip-hop and graffiti. With compositions featuring expressive figures intertwined with themes of nature and industrialism, her work speaks to visceral emotional and bodily experience, the complexity of our inner worlds, and the violent social systems that so powerfully shape our lives.
In 2016, Shani co-founded the 411 Collective, a hip-hop/graffiti collective that supports community empowerment and movement work through murals and direct art action. In 2018 she founded Chinatown Art Studio, a summer art program servicing Asian Pacific American youth. She has worked as a tenant organizer since 2017, and as such continues to learn and grow at the intersections of art, community, and anti-displacement work in Chinatown and across Washington, DC.
“I had a wonderful spring session with TAP, and was very fortunate to be able to join from Washington, D.C. For my fieldwork training, I worked with teaching artist and TAP facilitator Jay Howard in a 7th grade class at IS 126 in Astoria, Queens. With podcasting, poetry and Hip-Hop as the main art forms, his residency was focused on providing students the opportunity to explore self-expression and storytelling through art. It was inspiring and encouraging to see his curriculum in action, and to contribute to the students’ podcast projects by getting interviewed by them during class!
TAP reaffirmed the purpose and direction of my teaching—and important concepts and language that will help me better frame and articulate my work moving forward. I left with a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, the concept of creating space—virtual, analog, or both—for our youth and communities to flourish.”
Most Memorable TAP Moment:
“A year into COVID-19, a lack of community and creative gatherings had left a noticeable void for me—the first TAP salon was a breath of fresh air. How incredibly affirming and heartwarming it was to experience such powerful work by fellow trainees! From poetry, experimental film, to meditative and multidisciplinary activities, the experience really engaged our imaginations, emotions and all the senses, and resonated with me in a very personal way.”
Find out more about Shani here: