Shelbie Stidham was born in Pineville, Kentucky, residing in the central area for most her life. She captures the visual representations of the subconscious in symbolic surrealism. Represented as a perception of the world, or visual personifcations dealing with mental illness, as she herself has come to experience those types of struggles in her life. Dubbing herself the “Thinker”, her desire is to understand and grasp feelings and emotions through figurative work. Along with that, she works in illustration and writing stories, and sepcializes in digital graphic design and illustration softwares.
I loved reading stories and concocting my own ideas in writing from my imagination, especially in times when I felt alone. I ask the many-repeated questions we hear all the time: Why are we here? What do these feelings mean? What is our purpose here? My goal is to understand those complex feelings and how we deal with them.
When making art, understanding complex feelings and how we deal with them continues to be a fascinating to me.
With my own artistic choices, I find my reason for existing is to understand all the different complex feelings we go through in life, be it moments of pure and joy and happiness, to the darkest, most gut-wrenching despair. To me, its like the night and day, we can’t have them if they don’t coexist. This in turn brings balance to reality, such as our own feelings and the very essence of what it means to be alive. In my work, there is exploration into the human mind, with a strong emphasis into surrealism with a psychadelic aesthetic. Surrealism is often perceived as illogical nonsense from the mind. Through this I want to clarify that I believe its isn’t nonsense, there is a story in everything, even the things can’t seem to make sense of. I also love to illustrate, design worlds, characters, and write stories that reflect on real life in a unique, metaphorical verse. I want to explore the depth of what we can feel and how wild life can be, through the tough and the happiest.
Sometimes, I equate life into being like a black hole. Symbolically, the thought of being dragged into something gives off a sense of dread. Inescapable and terrifying at times, like life, it is necessary. We don’t choose to be here, we can’t stop what lies in our future from coming, nor can we undo what has already happened. Simply put, we have been set on a path and we will continue to move on regardless of how we feel, so why not to explore those moments in suspension? I believe that every day is a new day to learn something, to find a piece of yourself in this endless path, while being able to understand it.
Photographs: Ariel Emberton
Video: Derick Johnson