Burning Down the House, by Sonya Shannon.

Sonya Shannon: Visionary Artist


Some people break down into tears when they see the artwork.

Seven bodies leap and dance in a circle over ancient ruins. Their flying fabric is ablaze in flames. The painting looks like a classic. It could be in a famous museum in Paris.

The piece is called “Burning Down the House.” And like everything Sonya Shannon creates, each detail has deep significance. This message: Destroy the old and create the new. It’s about change.

Even without knowing the artist’s intention, Shannon’s artwork seems to speak to people when they see it: hanging on the walls of churches up and down the Front Range, in gift stores and book shops, at metaphysical fairs and in healers’ offices, on greeting cards and oracle decks. Even in the Masonic Lodge in Golden.

“They lose it in front of the artwork and can’t even tell you why. It just moves through them,” says Shannon, who lived in Boulder for 16 years and only recently relocated to Colorado Springs. “That’s what art should do: It transforms you. The original, sacred purpose of art is to connect us to the great mystery, the great divine at the heart of our experience here. … It changes how you understand life.”

Her art is spiritual. She calls it “visionary art.”

It didn’t start that way.

Shannon’s career began in New York as a 3D computer animator and animation director. She studied classical animation, where you hand-draw 24 pictures for every second. She quickly became intrigued by photorealism, which evolved into computer animation. She worked at Broadway Video, where “SNL” is created, and she taught at big-name schools, such as Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts. There, she taught students who would go on to become leaders in the industry, such as Carlos Saldanha (the director of “Rio” and all of the “Ice Age” movies) and Patricia Hannaway, who has a long list of film credits, from “Mulan” to “Lilo and Stitch” to “Star Wars.” She was the senior animator for Gollum in a “Lord of the Rings” film.

“I had fantastic students, and the teacher is always the one who learns from great students like that,” Shannon says.

Then 9/11 hit. While Shannon didn’t experience a direct loss by the terrorist attack, it forced her to evaluate her life and re-prioritize. She left the big city and moved to Boulder to immerse herself in nature, yoga, hiking, the mountains and a more spiritually-minded community.

Boulder changed the direction of her career. There wasn’t much of an animation industry here at the time. And here, she felt a spiritual opening.

“It was as though my old life was over,” she says.

But her passion for digital tools continued. At a time when many other fine artists were “running screaming from the computer,” Shannon says she saw an opportunity to use animation to bring to life the metaphysical ideas that she was understanding.

“We have this soul that is contained in our body and goes on after we leave this planet. There are other dimensions of the experience we can know about, and my role is to make that visible to the public. To reveal the unseen,” she says.

Meditation helps clear her mind, but she says she can’t pinpoint exactly where her inspiration and ideas come from. She says she feels like they’re a gift, and she considers herself a servant of a higher good.

As she explains on her website (sonya-shannon.com), “I chose each artwork specifically for its power to uplift, remind and help you explore the mysterious journey of your life.”

The Narrow Gate, by Sonya Shannon

Take one of her more famous paintings, “The Narrow Gate.” It follows the forms of a woman dropping her baggage and stepping toward an energetic field, a “narrow gate” to another dimension. An oversized print of this image hangs in the sanctuary of the Mile Hi Church in Lakewood. Shannon says she hopes this piece helps remind people to let go of the baggage (material, emotional, spiritual and mental) that can weigh you down and keep you from connecting with your higher self.

“The artwork is a kind of visual medicine. Every time you look at it, you can reset your orientation and remind you that there is more, that you know this other part of yourself,” Shannon says.

Patchwork Earth, by Sonya Shannon

Another popular piece, inspired by Boulder, is called “Patchwork Earth.” It’s a fusion of dozens of images, including photos taken around Boulder, pieced together to make a patchwork. “Patchwork Earth” is about recycling, not just material things to care for the environment, but also recycling our own energy — turning the waste (negative experiences) into something new (wisdom, growth).

The people in Shannon’s artwork are intentionally chosen, too, down to the hands knitting in “Patchwork Earth.” They belong to a woman working through childhood trauma.

Shannon has also recently begun creating commissioned portraits, which she called Higher Self Portraits. Often, the requests come from people going through transitions or at new stages of life, or people who feel drawn to time periods or supernatural places that regular photography cannot capture.

“It’s not just what you see when you look in the mirror. We’re all so much more than we might think at any one moment,” Shannon says. “We are part of eternity. So how do we remember that?”

Answering big questions like that is what Shannon considers her job.

Ultimately, she says, she thinks all of the energy of the universe is love. So that’s what she says she pours into her artwork.

“I want to find that connection between people through the frequency of love,” she says. “My aim is to carry the Vision as clearly and powerfully as I can with the technologies at my disposal.”

40 Responses

  1. I have found Sonya’s work to be some of the most divine and magical pieces that sends your spirit to a time beyond this realm! Her presence is extremely grounding and loving, I always look forward to new pieces.

    1. Pretty spectacular !
      I love this artist! Her work is so moving on a soul level.
      Great read ! I didnt know the back story of how she became to be.
      Love <3

  2. I am blessed to know Sonya and have followed the development of her visionary art. Her creativity, knowledge, sincerity and hard work is evident in each creation.

    I encourage everyone to check out this talented woman and her art!

    1. This woman is a creation goddess that speaks volumes through her art. Her soul shines deep with such extraordinary talents of love that shines on all who get to see! Keep your light shining bright Sonya! ❤ graditute for your visions and creations.

  3. I love the image of the fields in Patchwork Earth! And the Narrow Gate is something we should all be thinking about in this age of consumerism. Exceptionally fine work! Congratulations to the gifted artist!

  4. I love “Burning Down The House.” It’s even more spectacular in person. Shannon’s works connect with me on a deeply personal level 🙂

    1. Sonya Shannon is an amazing woman! Her art is guided and connected by Spirit! We are extremely blessed to have such inspired artwork to speak through Sonya. Thank b you Sonya for what you have brought and continue to bring into this reality!

  5. Sonja, Is a beautiful human being with a higher calling. She has a deep spiritual understanding, and a true gift connecting to the essence of another She feels their energy and brings it to life on an empty canvas. This experience was amazing!

  6. Love her work!!!! This image was held in my mind’s eyes since I was a child and when I saw her work I got chills.

  7. Sonya’s art is so expressive, colorful and beautiful it brings one to marvel at her gifts and talents.
    Thank you, Aimee, for using your talents to share this spiritually inspired art.

  8. Thanku so much for this article about an amazingly talented artist. Enjoyed reading about her journey as an artist. Her artwork is so unique, inspirational and wonderful. Love the fact that each and every painting conveys beautiful messages.

    1. Sonya is an extremely talented artist. Her artwork and the loving energy she puts into each painting allows transformation to occur in our heart, mind, emotions and body. Sonya’s art is very detailed and each painting holds deeper meanings about life. Everything she creates is inspirational and beautiful. Thank you Sonya for everything you do. A great teacher too!

      1. I also have all of Sonya’s Transformation Cards and they are extremely accurate. Each card has her artwork on it and the energy from the decks is phenomenal. I love to see if my client’s energy is balanced (air, earth, fire and water) using the Transformation deck. Sonya is an Amazing Artist and her cards speak volumes. Thank you for your beautiful spirit and sharing your gifts with the world.

  9. Sonya was my classmate at Sheridan college. I was immediately drawn to her soft spoken spirituality and of course her eternal beauty!
    Im a newyoikah after all!
    Her work is simply magical. I can stare at many of her pieces endlessly trying to figure out…. how she did it!
    She has mastered her medium and her spirituality and beauty shines through on everything she touches. I’ve been under Sonya’s spell ever since i met her, she is truly MAGICAL! I’m a bit partial but i love the piece “Burning down the house” I just love it and its movement, a true masterpiece….just like Sonya!
    She inspired me back in Sheridan College and still inspires me today.
    Thanks Sonya, im lucky to call you my friend.
    Keep up the beautiful work.
    Mitch Cornacchia

  10. Sonya is a beautiful person inside and outside. Her artwork speaks to your soul. I own two artworks. These artworks fill my home with peaceful energy.

  11. Sonya is my grandmother and is a wonderfully generous, thoughtful person, and a spectacular artist! One feels a sense of deep healing and empathy for the human condition when looking through her collection of beautiful works. She is wickedly intelligent and a true artistic force.

  12. Sonya’s artwork is moving and shows thought about the human condition in every stroke! Her remarkable journey is conveyed by tremendous feeling in her work! Thank you for inspiring me everyday! I am fortunate enough to have a copy of “Burning Down the House”, the very essence of the search for life’s meaning and what it means to face the creative process and challenge your ideas. The very best artwork reaches for something more than just rendering, but the spirit of what it means to truly live and risk. So wonderful!

  13. I will never forget the first time I saw Sonya’s art! She was debuting at The Denver Body Mind Spirit fair, I was walking around, kind of in a daze. My thoughts occupied with turmoil and then, I looked up and BAM! There he was “Walking Coyote” and I just stood there awestruck, tears streaming down my face. She held me and talked me through the healing I was experiencing in that moment. Read my cards and gave me hope where I thought there was none. Her art in powerful on so many levels and has touched me deep within my soul in ways that are difficult to express in mere words. I own several pieces, burning down the house being one of them. Every time I sit and look at them I can feel places in my soul healing in ways that I am not able to manifest on my own. Sonya Shannon is one of the most talented, spiritually connected, kind, compassionate and loving human beings I know. I highly recommend her work. It will heal you. Subtly and profoundly.

  14. Wonderful article! Sonya is a Divine soul walking this earth and one of my greatest teachers in this life. Her images have the power to deeply heal anyone who encounters them. I have worked with her deck of oracle cards for years now and am never surprised by the connection they have to my clients, new and old. Her ability to capture what the world needs to heal is truly remarkable. She is one of the brightest beings of light that I have encountered and I will forever be thankful for the times I walk this journey with her. Her artwork is one of a kind.

  15. My higher self portrait sits on my wall over my bed – an every day reminder about who I am and what I can aspire to be on any given day. My highest good – how I think and feel about that- has taken a quantum leap into a dimension that only gave me hints of existing before opening up to Sonya’s vision. Now, with the physical manifestation of my truth – of my Real self- vibrating into my consciousness and body with every color, symbol and image, I am changing – I am more at peace and connected to life and to all of what I am and can be at any moment. I am deeply grateful and a much more amazing human for knowing Sonya!

  16. Sonya work is unique and am glad you wrote about an artist that inspires the best of who we are! She is a truth bringer of the best kind – reminding us all about our true natures. Thank you for this article.

  17. I’m the proud owner of two of Sonya’s original paintings – “Infinite Bliss” and “One Way to the Pleiades”. These two pieces illustrate for others the incredible experience that I had journeying with sacred Grandmother Yagé in Peru. When I saw them, I was not able to walk away…. the visuals speak exactly to how my spirit vaporized and traveled outward through the entire Universe in a single second that lasted many lifetimes, observing all and internalizing the collected knowledge of countless star systems. They are a reminder that I am made of stardust and have existed for eternities.

    I also have a poster and several greeting cards of “Burning the House Down” because at the time, I was participating in a Be Love See Love apprenticeship called “FireWalk” and this work was just how I felt …. dancing through the destruction of thought patterns and judgments that no longer served me, in order to make way for the Phoenix of renewal to be reborn from the ashes.

    Sonya’s work speaks to my soul without the necessity for words.

  18. Fabulous article! However, words only convey a small part of the beauty & Higher Spirituality which is inspired in Sonya’s art. As a friend & I recently concurred at one of her events in Pueblo, she & her work is “beyond” the Earthly realm.

  19. I “discovered” Sonya a few years ago at a fair and now have quite a collection of her amazing artwork in my home. She is exceptionally talented. For me, her artwork is thought-provoking and emotionally-charged.

  20. This amazing woman is beautiful not only on the inside but out!!. I am just In Awe by her art, and I cannot wait for my soul portrait !! I highly recommend you take this powerful healing journey with this work…And I’m so in love with my Oracle deck

  21. I have a higher self portrait from sonya shannon and it still moves me today when I look at it. It shows me how much I have grown into my higher self and a reminder of that higher self integrating within me. The artwork is like no other and would never imagine going to someone else because of how Sonya seemed to grab the very essence of the energy and swayed it into the masterpiece it is today. I see that with all of her artwork. She is amazing and I highly recommend investing in her pieces or doing a higher self portrait. Also, that energy that is in the artwork helps create the energy of my room so I have that piece in my healing space as it dramatically helps create the healing space that I envision. So thank you Sonya, you are amazing!

  22. I’ve been following Sonya for years and engage with her incredible visionary art every single day! She is the most Divine human being — a bright light and true gift to this world. It’s so great to see her work and her spirit extolled in this way! Thank you for writing this article on such an inspiring artist.

  23. Wow! I love this article about a favorite artist. Sonya’s messages in her art are as beautiful and heartfelt as her art. The first time I saw Sonya’s “The Narrow Gate” it stopped me dead in my tracks, and I’ve been a fan ever since.

  24. Sonya is an absolutely beautiful person and soul! I have worked with her in a couple of her art shows and never seem to lose passion for looking at her work and finding new meaning for myself. I love “Patchwork” and my current favorite is “Prairie Ocean”. I find her a fabulous teacher, also. Consider her for a workshop!

  25. Sonya’s artwork has healing powers expressed with beautiful depth and profound insights. Her visions are spiritually enlightening and aesthetically moving.

  26. It is such a beautiful experience to not only witness one’s own response to evocative art such as Sonya’s, but to then also get a glimpse into the mind, heart, and soul of the artist who creates such transformational visionary art. It adds so much, to understand the intention and inspiration behind the final masterpiece.
    Sonya is one of the most profoundly lovely human beings I have met. The frequency she holds and the love she has for all others, is felt even across a room. One glance at Sonya is like seeing all of her visionary creations peeking back at you at once. Je l’adore!!

  27. I simply adore Sonya’s work. Her art pieces can be felt in the soul. I have spent some precious time with her on a soul level. She is an amazing lady and gift to the world. Her Oracle deck is very powerful visually. Take a moment and enjoy her work. Thank you Sonya for being a part of my life.

  28. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing many of Shannon’s artworks over the years and the word experiencing is the only word you can use! Her work takes you places mentally and spiritually, you step out of this reality!

    Thank you Shannon for my many journeys,

    John ThunderHeart

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