Shannon Leah Halvorsen

My work is inspired by the human experience, as trite as that sounds, but I struggle to call it anything else. I am fascinated by the historic photos of generations gone by, and everything that their struggle laid forth for all of us—I am deeply rooted in the experience of nostalgia. I crave a deep and meaningful connection to those who came before, and my art is how I reach back through time to take their hand. By revealing the past, line by line, in black and white, I am trying to recapture a profound and life-altering emotion that was felt by someone I’ll never meet. With my scratchboards, I am honoring them and meditating upon them—it’s impossible not to when I’ve spent an hour crafting the bridge of their nose one scratch at a time.

There is an intense devotion that transpires when I am lost in thousands upon thousands of brittle white lines. The world goes quiet and still. There is an exchange of energy between myself and the work. An excitement when, after hours of whittling away the ink bit by bit, finally—finally!—the image begins to emerge. That moment is nothing short of magic, and is worth the dedication of a lifetime spent learning it.

I have lived in Florida for most of my life, and have dedicated the last six years to perfecting my own unique style of scratchboard technique. I have participated in a number of gallery shows and festivals, from Miami Beach to Seattle, and have had my work published in three anthologies of art, published by Out Of Step Books. I was also a featured artist, honored with an eight-page spread, in Emboss Magazine’s Black & White issue. I am a member of the International Society of Scratchboard Artists and American Women Artists.

Surrounded by an endless supply of pens, papers, paints, fabrics and clays, I grew up in the Florida Keys and was taught color theory and proper wheel-throwing techniques before mastering my shoe laces.

With the Emerging Artist Grant from Creative Pinellas, I look forward to exploring a time in our not-so-distant history that is still painfully relevant in our current society. Working from images taken at the Selma March in 1965 and the years encompassing that impactful time in our nation’s history, I want to honor the generation that rose against racism and segregation in America. By bringing these images to light in a new way, I hope they will serve as a celebration of what was accomplished, a reminder of what still must change, and a call to move forward, equal, together.