Take four steps into Edwin Shelton’s art classroom, and the creativity jumps out at you like ghouls at a haunted house. The walls are lined with works that touch every color on the palette. A trove of cardboard lay waiting in the wings for the next two-dimensional enterprise. The remnants of a clay expedition have pasted themselves to a table, serving as a visual souvenir of a project completed. Still, the most dynamic subject in the spacious studio is Shelton himself.
Marquette’s most vivacious character is well-known for his adventures inside the walls of the main building. His endeavors outside them continue to garner ink.
Shelton made headlines when Indiana University Northwest School of the Arts announced his inclusion in its Winter 2023 exhibitions. His Manifesting the Unseen: New Work is on display through March 9th inside the School of the Arts Gallery. Shelton will be on hand this Saturday and next Saturday from noon until 4 pm.
Shelton and his wife, Laurel Izard, also have artworks juried in the "Color" exhibition inside the Arc Gallery in Chicago. Interested parties may view those through February 25th.
Just as his footprint has expanded from Marquette High School to St. Mary’s Studio 11, his work will now stretch to the other side of the Chicagoland perimeter. The Evanston Art Center will feature his wall panels beginning March 4th and running through April 9th.
“I feel like a fictional character because I’m in the lower level of Marquette Catholic High School, and when I’m done here, I go to Studio 11 next door, and I can get lost in that space making new artworks,” Shelton remarked.
Within those wall panels, Shelton incorporated Chinese characters he observed during a teaching stint in Zibo. Ask Shelton about his time in China and he’ll deliver a glowing review of the people and culture there. Watch the practicing artist guide a classroom through a simple sketch and it’s easy to see why so many students find his space to be where imagination thrives.
“It’s an extension of my passion,” he said, smiling.
His ingenuity and resourcefulness are natural, but Shelton is admittedly learning one craft on the fly: the art of networking. As he aims to gain commercial gallery representation, Shelton is becoming well-versed in the business axiom that it’s not just what you know but who you know.
“The introvert in me is much more comfortable working in my studio, but I know I need to visit galleries around Chicago and be seen. It’s like fishing. You throw yourself out there and see what lands,” he stated.