Arts

Inside the Mystical World of Texas’ Plant Artist

This Blue Cottage Hides Plenty of Magic — It’s Shamsy

BY // 07.05.18

Somewhere in between Lakewood and Highland Park, among rows of McMansions, there’s a sweet little duplex that’s pushing a century. Step inside the cornflower blue cottage and you’ll find trays of crystals, colorful fish swimming in wall-mounted bowls, and drawers filled with herbs, dried plant specimens, feathers, and other bits of nature.

This isn’t a witch’s den, but it’s no less mystical; it’s the home and studio of artist Shamsy Roomiani.

The Texas native is a Jack of all trades, creating everything from large-scale installations (she currently has one at Dallas’ Sweet Tooth Hotel), to tiny crystal sculptures called “Shamstones,” to bundles of incense made with botanics from her garden. But whether she’s practicing photography, printmaking or drawing, there’s one common thread that runs through her work.

“Everything that I do is plant-related somehow,” says Roomiani. “That is the one subject that goes through all of the different mediums that I use.”

Since her childhood in Richardson, Shamsy has been obsessed with two things: art and nature. She studied printmaking in college, but she’s found that making a career in the arts requires some versatility.

“It’s like ‘Oh you got a fine arts degree. Well, now what? How do you make a living out of that without becoming a starving artist?’ ” she says. “I feel like doing all of these little different endeavors, like the workshops and selling goods and having an art show have allowed me to make a living as an artist.”

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  • Christopher Martin Gallery 1 - DALLAS (ROOMS)
  • Christopher Martin Gallery 1 - DALLAS (ROOMS)
  • Christopher Martin Gallery 1 - DALLAS (ROOMS)
  • Christopher Martin Gallery 1 - DALLAS (ROOMS)
  • Christopher Martin Gallery 1 - DALLAS (ROOMS)
  • Christopher Martin Gallery 1 - DALLAS (ROOMS)
  • Christopher Martin Gallery 1 - DALLAS (ROOMS)

Shamsy is the first to admit that she’s a little all over the place. One day she might be making leaf prints to be sold in West Elm stores across Texas, the next she’s creating a wall of cotton candy clouds for Sweet Tooth Hotel.

“I feel like my focus goes all over the place, and I’m interested in so many things and I’m curious to learn how to do so many things. I can’t really say that I’m focused on one particular thing,” she says. “It’s whatever strikes my fancy at the time.”

Her namesake Shamstones are one element that’s remained prevalent in her artwork. The one-of-a-kind, faux-crystal sculptures are handmade with resin, bright pigments and organic botanic materials.

“They are little magic pieces that you can put anywhere in your house. I’ve enjoyed putting them in my fish tank or pairing them with a plant for a cute little arrangement. I’ve started making jewelry out of them,” she says.

Shamstones Wonder

The eye-catching stones have an organic shape, but are bright, colorful, and glow in the dark. This juxtaposition of natural and supernatural is a common theme in Shamsy’s work. Take Rainbow Confection, her installation at Sweet Tooth Hotel, for example.

“I wanted to play with textures so people could play with it and touch and gaze and wonder at it,” she says. “I knew I wanted to have encapsulated plants within these raindrops. It all surrounded that element. What produces raindrops? Clouds. Sweet Tooth Hotel. Cotton Candy Clouds.”

As much as Shamsy is a naturalist, her artwork aims to help the viewer escape reality for a moment.  

She hopes it can provide “a sense of calming. A sense of peace. The ability to take a deep breath and go inwards and take a step away from the chaotic lives that we lead.” 

“I want people to feel happy and feel a sense of quietness and a sense of going inward [when viewing my work],” says the artist. 

Shamsy is teaching a free workshop on how to curate a nature specimen and giving an artist demonstration at the Nasher Sculpture Center this Saturday from 10 am to noon. The event is free for everyone.

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