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International, cross-disciplinary artist Shelby Fleming (she/her) specializes in sculpture and installation art. Fleming’s work focuses on the physical and psychological body’s fragility and resilience as it relates to her ongoing medical complications. With a BFA and MFA, Fleming has attended residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Chautauqua School of Art, and Interform. Fleming’s artwork has been exhibited at the CICA Museum, South Korea; the International Sculpture Conference; and The Fort Smith Regional Art Museum. Fleming is the recipient of the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts’s 2023 Artist Award and Chateau Orquevaux’s Emerging Artist Grant.

Artist Statement

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The human body is the center of my cross-disciplinary artistic practice: whether it is abstract or representational, my work revolves around the body’s fragility and resilience as it faces internal, external, or psychological factors. Many of the patterns and structures in my sculptures transform and draw inspiration from microscopic images, highlighting the 37.2 trillion cells that work endlessly to make us who we are, for better or worse. My work is inspired by my own medical and bodily experiences as I navigate being a neurodivergent woman with chronic medical conditions. Sharing my own experiences through visual art often encourages others to share theirs; the reaction is often therapeutic to viewers as they learn they are not alone in their complications or frustrations with the inequality and inaccessibility of medical services.

My installations approach from a larger perspective as I account for the viewer’s body and viewing experience in relation to the space: the scale, sculptural placement, lighting, and negative space are all elements I consider when constructing installations. In this created space, the viewer’s body is both confronted and included in the installation, thereby completing the piece. By making the internal external, my art works as a catalyst, giving viewers, particularly those who have not had a major medical complication, a moment of pause to evaluate their own bodies in relation to the space and gain a greater understanding of the extra obstacles someone has to endure to live a normal life.

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