Arts & Culture News

Get to Know Oil & Cotton's Shannon Driscoll -- Teacher, Community Builder, Fire Eater

Get to know the people behind some of Dallas' more interesting, unique, art-inspired local businesses. Know any good ones? Drop us a tip in the comments.

Shannon Driscoll has been immersed in art most of her adult life. She's a former art conservator, co-owner Oil & Cotton, and the teeniest fireball you'll ever meet. Don't believe us? Check out what she says about her party trick.

Unfamiliar with Oil & Cotton? Here is what we wrote about the Oak Cliff creative exchange in our 2013 Best of Dallas issue: "Its core mission is to promote arts education and community building, but philosophically it has branched into something bigger. Oil & Cotton has become a hub of idea exchange, a salon for art and a spot where creative passion can find both a home and collaborators. "

Where are you from? Baltimore, Maryland

What did you want to be when you were little? I went through a couple of career fields as a child. I was really into exploration, so I loved Indiana Jones. I liked insects for a while. My mom bought me a book on insects so I loved identifying things, bugs.

What do you do for inspiration? Or where do you find inspiration? Sharing ideas with other people. I have an incredible group of friends and professional colleagues. We get to work with Nicole Stutzman at the DMA, Kristina Hilliard Anderson at the Perot and Jessica Trevizo at the Latino Cultural Center. They're these unbelievable women with great ideas and really wonderful resources that we get to partner with. And my partner, Kayli House Cusick, is just amazing. She inspires me every day. I feel so, so lucky to have her in my life ... as a business partner and also a friend.

What's your average day like? Usually I get to Oil & Cotton and I'm either immediately teaching or I start doing admin, computer stuff. We could be doing anything from sorting through donated supplies, jigging the calendar, updating new workshops, corresponding with workshop teachers, setting up interns and volunteers and then usually more teaching. I also run and I have the best running group on the planet.

Have you had weird things donated? Oh, girl. We get bones all the time, which we love. We use those for our still life library where students can choose an object and draw from it. Kayli and I are both sentimental so we both have collections of old things that people might look at and say, "Why?" but it's a memory for us and that's the cool thing about getting donations from people because they're bringing them to us because they feel that we'll appreciate the connection because we get the stories too.

Besides your own, what's your favorite shop in Dallas? Half Price Books

What's the one thing you're most proud of? I love loving. I really do. And I live far away from my family and I have such a good caring group around me so I feel really safe and supported. So creating that and nurturing that is something I'm really proud of.

If you could travel back in time, what's the one thing you would change? Or tell yourself growing up? Don't be afraid to try things that I'm not good at because I feel like I held myself back from learning things and trying things as a young person.

What's your party trick? I can eat fire.

Really? OK. How? During my undergrad in Boston, I worked at the Museum of Fine Arts and a lady I worked with told me she could eat fire. I told her I wanted to be able to do that. She took me to the Fens, a park behind the museum, and I brought kerosene and she brought an old white T-shirt and a metal coat hanger and she taught me how to eat fire on my lunch break.

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Allison Perkins