Shawn Shafner

Shawn Shafner

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner (Founder, Lead Artist) is a Brooklyn-based artist, educator and activist. He founded The People's Own Organic Power Project (www.thePOOPproject.org) in 2010 to catalyze conversation about sustainable sanitation. Major works include Flush: The Documentary (www.goflushyourself.com), the musical Eat $h*t: How Our Waste Can Save the World ("the most important show on the Edinburgh Fringe," The Scotsman), performances in Dubai, Jerusalem and the United Nations for World Toilet Day. Shawn has created installations for Chashama and Judson Church, organized and moderated two summers of expert panels for the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek (site of NYC's largest wastewater treatment plant), and spoken on many panels himself, including "Enacting Awareness: Water, Waste, and Public Space" at the University of California Santa Cruz, May 2015.

The Puru has been featured as a Waste Warrior on CBC Radio One, interviewed for articles in the New York Post and DNA Info, and The POOP Project has been profiled in The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, American Hipster, Good.com, TreeHugger, and Broadway World. He has written guest blog posts for Toilet Twinning, The Power of Poo and DefeatDD, for whom he also served as a guest judge on their “Oh the Places We Go…Public Health’s Humble Hero: 2014 Toilet Calendar.”


Community-based art projects include a 2014-15 LABA Fellowship, a 2015 iLAB residency (iLAND and LMCC), and work with The World Policy Institute, Fourth Arts Block, Elastic City. During "Latch / Attach" in 2013-14, hundreds of community members from NY's Lower East Side contributed used clothing and labor to the creation of a communal rug, made from recycled t-shirts. The resulting work was displayed in The Great Hall of Cooper Union as part of the Sustain exhibit.

As an actor, Shawn has performed on the stages of Madison Square Garden, London’s Institute for Contemporary Art, the Denver Center, Classic Stage Company, 59E59, The Culture Project and many more. He has collaborated on dozens of ritual theater events for Lab/Shul (formerly Storahtelling) from 2005-present, and toured for nine months as Pablo the Pengin in Nickelodeon's The Backyardigans! Live!

Shawn has been working as a Teaching Artist in NYC schools since 2005, working with the Guggenheim's Learning Through Art program Everyday Arts for Special Education (a program of Urban Arts Partnership), Arts for All and more. He has created original educational programming for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, the JCC Manhattan and the 14th Street Y, and regularly leads corporate workshops on teambuilding, leadership, and storytelling.

Shawn was a 2005 Spielberg Fellow, winner of a Eurohypo AG Engagement for the Community Award in 2012, and was invited to join the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation's ROI Community in 2015.