Clarissa Shanahan is a Philadelphia-based fine artist. She holds a BFA from University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and is a Bread Scholar, a merit based full scholarship from UPenn, the first PAFA/UPenn student ever to be awarded. Originally from New York, she additionally studied painting at New York Academy of Art, The Art Students League, Isabel O’Neal Studio on full scholarship, as well as many private studios around NY.
Having been an educator and lecturer at PAFA from 2000 - 2018, Clarissa also is one of the first US-based teaching artists to be working with VAWAA, an international travel and arts organization, teaching students from around the world in both in-person apprenticeships, as well as lectures online. Her subjects run from symbolism and film-theory to applied decorative arts to film-related painting classes,
Her paintings have been exhibited in shows around the country, and is included in numerous private collections.
Prior to teaching, Clarissa’s career began with extensive professional experience in decorative arts. In 1993, she received an invitation from Friends of Vielles Maisons Francaises to restore a 19th-century horse carriage in Buxy, France. This led to producing work for private clients as well as commercial projects for American Express, The New York Museum of Natural History, Bendels, Fendi, Saks, Lord & Taylor and others.
She then spent almost twenty years in the film industry as a scenic artist, producing sets for over 40 film and television productions. Additionally, she produced both original and reproduction paintings for numerous productions, including the Lee Krasner paintings for the film Pollock. Her credits include Julie Taymor’s The Tempest, Salt, Summer of Sam, Angels in America and Boardwalk Empire. She is a longtime member of the United Scenic Artists 829.
She’s involved in numerous arts organizations and participates in developing community arts events in Philadelphia.