Shen Wei is a Chinese-born American artist based in New York City. He is known for his intimate portraits of others and himself, as well as his poetic landscapes and still-life photography. His work has been exhibited internationally and featured in some of the biggest magazines in the world. His work embraces the Chinese philosophy of Qi, traditional Chinese paintings, nature, self-reflection, and moments of daily life.
Your work has been featured in major publications and exhibitions. How do you feel about that? What did you expect when you started out photographing?
As an artist, I am always grateful that my work generates conversation and is meaningful to others. I formally started photography when I was in college. I was just learning and experimenting and finding my voice at the time. Art school is a magical place for me. I didn’t actually know what to expect exactly. I just enjoy making art.
What made you pick up photography in the first place?
I instantly fell in love with photography after taking some photo classes at college. It was an instinctual choice.
You often choose to work with self-portraits. How is this different from shooting others?
Photographing other people requires communication skills which is crucial for portrait photography. Photographing myself is self-reflect, self-confront, and self-discovery, another kind of communication.
What about videos and film? Do you approach them differently or are they an extension of your photographic work?
Video and film work are extensions of my photographic work. I often work the two mediums at the same time.
Which themes do you feel are most strongly present in your work?
Each theme in my work represents a different side of me and how I see the world in different ways. I have been working on self-portraits for the longest time. Almost all of my projects include a self-portrait element. Besides that, nature is also very strongly presented in my work.
What would be your dream project to work on?
I am currently working on more performative video pieces. My dream project is to create theatre work.