Shanna Steals grew up in different parts of rural Eastern Ontario, including Casselman, St-Albert, Limoges and Alfred, where she lives today. Shanna earned a double bachelor’s degree in visual arts and in English literature from the University of Ottawa in 2006. As a student, she specialized in darkroom photography, 35 mm black and white, as well as in mixed media sculpture, assemblage and installation. She explored different mediums, as well as drawing. painting and performance to convey her concepts, but keeps coming back to acrylic painting, mixed media, sculpture and drawing, the four core mediums in her creations. She currently works in multiple mediums, favouring traditional fabrication methods, given that the process of creation, materiality and experimentation are at the source of her art. She has completed a few major murals, designs and has produced logos, and masks for theatre, dance groups and a short film. She regularly exhibits her work in local and regional galleries.
Shanna has been teaching visual arts to children and teens, and acrylic painting to adults, since 2003 in cultural centres and schools as a guest artist. In 2014, she took the Artist-Educator Foundations Course at the Royal Conservatory in partnership with the Ontario Arts Council. When the Conseil des arts Prescott-Russell Arts Council (CAPRAC) was founded in 2014, she became the organization’s Coordinator, and later its Executive Director until 2020. She is now a freelancer and divides her time between teaching, consulting, her artistic practice and raising her son and Monarch Butterflies.
After finding a Monarch caterpillar on the wild milkweed in her garden during the summer of 2018, Shanna decided to embark on a new journey to save the Monarch Butterfly. She quickly became a Monarch enthusiast and is known in her community as "Madame Papillon." To this day, she continues to share her extensive knowledge and experience as an artist, educator, cultural worker, exhibition curator, environmentalist and Monarch rearer.