Renowned artist Shelby Shadwell opens up about his unique artistic journey, inspirations, and the challenges he faces in his creative practice.
SPACE BLANKETS - Studio view - More images available upon request.
From drawing animal viscera to smashed insects and trash bags, Shelby Shadwell's work is anything but ordinary. Currently an Associate Professor at the University of Wyoming, he has made a name for himself through his meticulous drawings of unconventional subjects, creating a unique juxtaposition between the vulgarity of the subject matter and the intricacy of the technique.
Background and Exhibitions
Shelby's artistic roots can be traced back to his childhood in Springfield, Missouri. He earned a BFA from Washington University in St. Louis in 2003 and an MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2006. A two-time recipient of the Visual Arts Fellowship from the Wyoming Arts Council, Shelby's work has been displayed in various exhibitions across the nation.
Some of his most recent exhibitions include LIKE AND SHARE IF YOU AGREE!!! at the South Bend Museum of Art, DRAWN at Manifest Creative Research Gallery in Cincinnati, OH, and Drawing Discourse at the University of North Carolina Asheville. In 2016, he was awarded a solo exhibition at the APEX Space at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon, with his work being included in their permanent collection.
Inspiration and Technique
Inspired by the quiet, neglected, and often repulsive aspects of life, Shelby's artistic process involves a reductive technique using charcoal and pastels on paper or polyester substrates. He begins by coating the surface with charcoal and then employs erasers to bring out the lighter values. This allows him to work on a larger scale and at a faster pace than with graphite.
Shelby's motivation is fueled by the practices of other artists, particularly those who seemingly take a different approach to their work, such as Maurizio Cattelan, Elzworth Kelly, and Agnes Martin. He aims for his style to be strange, uncanny, and awe-inspiring.
Future Goals and Challenges
Shelby's future aspirations include more prominent shows at art museums and other venues, gallery representation, participation in art fairs, and cultivating collectors. As an educator, he is not reliant on sales for his livelihood, but believes that exploring the commercial side of the art world would be beneficial for both his students and himself.
He acknowledges that making art is a constant challenge, but it is the problem-solving aspect of the creative process that keeps it compelling. The resilience of his images, juxtaposed with the fragility of the objects, speaks to the human condition – our bodies are both incredibly strong and weak at the same time.
For more information or to get in touch with the artist directly: