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© 2017 by Shelly Denning

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ARTIST'S STATEMENT

Through my art, I hope to find ways in which to enrich the lives of others or further causes that are close to my heart. A few ways I might accomplish this are…

 

...making interactive art. Even as a child, I cared nothing for toys that just sat still. I wanted dolls that could talk or blocks that could be connected to build something useful. My art should do the same. If creating works for placement in public spaces, I would love for them to be interactive in some way. This could be through movement, sound, light, touch, etc. I would love to create art that is accessible to all, such as adding texture to art for the blind. A recent project for a sculpture class involved creating something a pet could use. I created a structure that a cat could crawl through, but that also could be a shelving unit for the owner. Multipurpose or useful art is an important theme for me.

 

...making art that addresses social issues. I consider myself to be a true humanist. I have strong beliefs regarding human rights, religion and politics and I'm not afraid to rattle a few cages to get my point across. Too many people have fought too long or continue to fight for their rights and I believe that everyone should be afforded the same freedoms. I may not always possess the words to express myself thoroughly, but I can make up for it with bold images that cannot be ignored.

 

...making collaborative art. I recently wrote a research report on the benefits of the arts (including visual arts, music, dance and theatre) for the individual and for the community as a whole. My research uncovered numerous health, psychological and financial benefits for those creating art and/or participating in arts-related events. Additionally, communities that focus on building arts-centered opportunities boast greater economic stimulation and reduced rates of crime. I would love nothing more than to participate in - or better yet, create my own - programs that include the public in the design and implementation of art in the community. I am especially interested in fostering our youth - the artists of tomorrow.

ABOUT ME

I've always loved to draw and paint. When I was younger, my mother would get mad at the amount of paper she had to purchase to feed my art habit. I rarely turned in homework that didn't include doodles in the margins. I dreamed of being a successful artist and explored the various ways to accomplish this.

Over the years, I practiced any medium I could get my hands on. My teachers were Bob Ross and other painters demonstrating their skills on PBS. In middle school, I didn't have time in my schedule to add art classes, so I would visit with the art teacher at lunch or after school. He would give me the assignments that his class was given and I would turn them in for critique.

In high school, I opted to take orchestra and theatre over art until my senior year when I finally gave up on theatre. I approached the art teacher and showed her my work. She placed me in the level 3 art class.

Upon graduation, I attended the University of Texas at Arlington, majoring in illustration. Due to events beyond my control, I had to drop out after one year. Soon after, I met the father of my children and took many years away from art to focus on raising my family. As the kids grew up and didn't require as much attention, I found myself gravitating back to the canvas.

I tried my hand at fantasy and horror artwork and had little success in this area. Discouraged, I put down the paint brush and picked up a makeup brush. I spent eight years working in the film industry as a beauty and special effects makeup artist, supplementing with face painting gigs on the side.

While I felt that this was a good outlet for me and utilized my skills well, it didn't make me happy. The long hours and tight deadlines only stressed me out. I found myself yearning to paint again. I did one small portrait, posted it on Facebook and it had sold within the hour. That was the sign I needed. With my boyfriend's encouragement, I put together a small studio and began painting as often as I could.

While I have been moderately successful, after a couple of years, I decided to return to college to complete my art degree. With the education I am receiving from the University of North Texas, I hope to fill in some of my knowledge gaps and turn my moderately successful career into an outstandingly successful one.