Shana Mabari is an American contemporary artist with a studio practice based in Los Angeles. Previously she has lived and worked in Paris, Northern India, Southeast Asia, and Tel Aviv. Through her use of color, light, reflection, and geometric form, Mabari explores the dynamics of visual perception and the ways in which we experience physical space. Her sculptures, installations, and immersive environments exist on a continuum that connects to the Light and Space movement that originated in California in the 1960s and are influenced by the work of key figures associated with the movement, including James Turrell, Robert Irwin, Dan Flavin, and Helen Pashgian.
Central to Mabari’s vision of an expanded practice is an evolving focus on how the space of art-making and -viewing might productively intersect with what are otherwise often highly technical and advanced scientific fields, such as psychophysics (the quantitative study of the relationship between external stimuli and sensory perception) and astrophysics. In 2004, Mabari and Dr. Shinsuke Shimojo of the California Institute of Technology were awarded a patent for the design of Dynamic Spatial Illusions, a portable version of a visual-and-sensory experimental environment, and the artist has ongoing collaborations with experts in the vision sciences at CalTech and in the neurosciences at Zurich’s Institute of Neuroinformatics. In 2018, Mabari was selected to be the first artist to fly aboard a mission of NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), which uses a 2.7-meter telescope mounted in a customized 747 flying to a maximum altitude of 45,000 feet to study such astronomical phenomena as black holes, gravitational waves, magnetic fields, and the formation of star clusters. It is through Mabari’s own intersections with advanced scientific fields that the artist explores the complexities of the contemporary individual’s relationship to the ways in which these disciplines have dramatically expanded our collective field of vision and our understanding of physical reality, which in turn serves as a key animating force in her production.
Among the notable public displays of Mabari’s work, in 2014 the artist created ILLUMETRIC, a triptych of massive diamond-, cube-, and rectangle-shaped sculptures, for the city of West Hollywood’s Art on the Outside public art program. Mabari consulted with renowned fabricator Jack Brogan to produce the sculptures, which were displayed on Santa Monica Boulevard for two years, after the original one-year term was extended for a second year. A short film chronicling the project made by Mabari after receiving a WeHo@30 Film & Digital Media grant premiered in 2015 at the WeHo@30 Film Festival and Digital Time Capsule.
Installed in 2016 and on permanent display, Mabari’s monumental sculpture Astral Challenger was the first piece of public art commissioned by the city of Lancaster, California, for its Art and Public Places program. While the twenty-foot-tall stainless-steel-and-acrylic landmark, conceived as both a tribute to the city’s achievements in the aerospace industry and to commemorate the 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster, immediately evokes the iconic silhouette of a rocket, its minimalist form, illusion of near-weightlessness, and the changing play of light both by day and through nighttime illumination clearly reflect Mabari’s ongoing experimentation with the aesthetic concerns of the Light and Space movement.
In 2017, a year-long exhibition of sculptures Mabari created between 2014 and 2016 opened in the high-profile Blue Lobby at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, as part of the center’s ongoing designLAb program curated by Helen Varola. Among the ten works on display were Diametros Petals, cube sculptures from the ILLUMETRIC series, and the monumental ten-foot-tall Illumetric Rectangle.
Works from Mabari’s series Diametros Petals and Leukos Petals were also shown in 2018–19 in the downtown Los Angeles offices of MATT Construction, whose major projects include The Broad museum. The display was curated by Andi Campognone, who is also the manager and curator at the Museum of Art and History (MOAH) in Lancaster, California, where Diametros Petals debuted in 2015–16 in a rooftop installation at the museum. In February 2020, Mabari will return to MOAH to present a solo exhibition as part of the museum’s upcoming show Light in Space.
Mabari’s education includes studies at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles as well as at the École des Beaux-Arts and the American University, both in Paris. In 2013, the artist received an ARC grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation in Los Angeles. She currently exhibits with Imago Galleries in Palm Desert, California.