Auniversal Picture 3 (Scale) | Charcoal on Paper | 80" x 80" | 2012

Auniversal Picture 11 | Charcoal and Pastel on Prepared Linen | 43" x 43" | 2014


Artist Statement: In these large scale drawings, Shelby is formally exploring the visual tensions between representation and abstraction, as his observed subjects (masses of black plastic trash bags, piles of cockroaches, and sculptures of diapers) invoke the sensibility of a Rorschach test for viewers to contemplate. On a conceptual level, these subjects also share connotations of disposability, decay, and most notably repulsion, especially for the artist—as manifestations of personal fears and anxieties. Yet the drawings themselves are rendered to convey the opposite, to be objects that are sumptuous and attractive for the audience. Therefore, the act of detailing these subjects in such scale is a form of individual catharsis. The inherent contrasts between light and dark, representation and abstraction, and attraction and repulsion call into question what we value in art, as well as within a broader cultural context. Shelby’s work fits into an ongoing dialogue that elevates the mundane, the ephemeral, or the vulgar toward a higher status, thereby reflecting areas of society that we often refuse to acknowledge in the mirror of traditional norms.


Born and raised in Springfield, Missouri, Shelby received his BFA from Washington University School of Fine Art in St. Louis in 2003 and MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2006. Shelby actively exhibits across the country, and was recently featured in the International Drawing Annual 5, 6, and 9 publications through the Manifest Creative Research Gallery and Drawing Center in Cincinnatti, OH where he also had a solo show in February, 2013. He was invited to participate in two small group exhibitions, “Defining Territory: Contemporary Drawing” at the Parkland Art Gallery in Champaign, IL in fall of 2013 and “SHADES: Contemporary Drawing” at the John A. Day Gallery at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion in the spring of 2014. Shelby was the recipient of the First Place Award for his work in the Texas National 2014 Exhibition at the Cole Art Center in Nacogdoches, TX from juror Jerome Witkin, and currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the Art Department at the University of Wyoming.