Eugenie Shonnard was born in Yonkers, New York, and from a young age, had a love of nature and animals. To express her love of these interests, she turned to drawing. She studied at the New York School of Applied Design for Women with the goal of being a designer of wallpaper and book covers. However, she was frustrated with two-dimensional work and turned to sculpture, something her family discouraged because of the physical stammer clay and bronze required. In 1911, she went to Paris where she was a student of Auguste Rodin. Her first works were portrait reliefs, then shifted to animals, primarily in stone, including the elongated forms of wading birds.
In 1925 Shonnard visited New Mexico and modeled the Native Americans. Enchanted by the landscape, she moved to Santa Fe in 1927. Alfred Morang, one of her peers in Santa fe, wrote: " Miss Shonnard is able to go beyond the physical appearance of the object and invest her emotional reactions with the most profound forms. . . she allows the subject to create the technical response, and in that respect she parallels Picasso, whose various styles are in reality dictated by an inner response to plastic problems."