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Check out Jessica Shirley’s Artwork

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Shirley.

Jessica, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I was the third of three daughters born to a military family, and grew up in Japan, California, Germany, and the South. Drawing was always my outlet, and in high school I began to paint a lot, taking the school’s only art class many times. At the University of Georgia, I didn’t give my art major a second thought, as we’re so often asked to make big life decisions when still so young, but before the world has had a chance to crush imagination with practicality. I took a detour after school to study lay counseling and to process my own experiences, including the loss of a parent at 16. My art practice has ebbed and flowed, but I have been privileged to be able to keep creating, as well as to have worked with organizations like the High Museum of Art, the Spruill Center for the Arts, and WonderRoot. I recently took a class at C4 Atlanta called “Ignite”, which teaches business planning to creatives. Some of the best advice I have been given is to carve out space for and structure my life around creating, regardless of whether it’s supporting me financially. If something is important to you, don’t give up.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I create mixed media paintings on canvas or panel, many times beginning with an abstract environment in which a figure or figures later appear. I often like large scale pieces because they feel most like a playground where I can spread out images. Fabric, found objects, and words in multiple languages show up in various works. I tend to build my own wooden panels beforehand, and sketch ideas or work them out on paper in smaller format if I need to.

I think the “Why?” behind creating has generally been as a way for me to process life. We often view a person’s pain and struggles as separate from their artistry, when they are usually the reason behind it. My artwork uses personal narratives to illustrate identity and metamorphosis. Death is used as a positive symbol for transition, and to evoke the simplicity that comes with a stripping away of everything that is non-essential. I aim to inspire hope through my personal experience of transformation.

What do you think it takes to be successful as an artist?
I believe that finding your unique voice and staying true to its regardless of changes in form or style is essential. Creating work or taking commissions based solely on what is commercially viable is not necessarily a lesser path, it’s just not the direction I sense for myself. Making art at whatever speed is practical or possible has always been important to me, and success in my case looks like continuing an art practice whatever life might throw my way.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
My work can be viewed at, and on Facebook or Instagram at @jessicashirleyartwork. I am currently streamlining my online ordering process, but prints can be ordered from my Facebook page, or I can be contacted via my website or social media to purchase pieces or prints. I also post upcoming exhibitions and other events on social media.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Dawn Spoelstra
Herbert Kuper

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