Shelley Holcomb (1985, Starkville, Mississippi, USA) is an artist who has been living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art with a specialization in Painting from Savannah College of Art and Design. Her work is focused on the human figure with a particular emphasis on portraiture, specifically the immersive qualities thereof. Holcomb’s past projects have utilized a variety of media, including film and installation. Her intention is to reveal and express the layered, buried characteristics of her subjects’ humanity. Holcomb’s ongoing work continues to focus on these themes and create conceptual art through the use of a classical standard -- portraiture -- but expands into other media including video installation, large-scale works on paper, sculpture, and cultural experiments. Her works seek to inspire thought and conversation and will continue to turn a mirror upon its viewer, their societal surroundings, and their own behaviors.
Holcomb’s latest series, ‘Fat Babies’, focuses solely on portraits of obese children. Communicating through tactile painting techniques a conversation between the artist and her audience about the juxtaposition of innocence and the obscene. She is interested in how images that are ostensibly innocent and pure as a baby can sometimes reflexively elicit uncomfortable and even unseemly emotional responses. The works can spin the viewer's response from intrigue to repulsion and simultaneously evoke thoughts of theoretical contradictions and challenge habits of perception. Her jocular, in-your-face compositions draw you in while at the same time repelling you with a visceral mixture of feelings involving provocation, guilt, disgust, and vulnerability. Contour lines, as would demarcate the crevices or hills of a landscape, cut across the delicate skin of each baby to create bulging folds. Her subject matter is often pictured without eyesight suggesting an extrasensory watchfulness. They are sightless, yet somehow, see right into you.
The ‘Fat Babies’ series references Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and our modern society’s neglect and perversion of innocence. In the famous novel, Dr. Frankenstein’s monstrous creation is described to its readers as "Formed into a hideous and gigantic creature, the monster faces rejection and fear from his creator and society.” Much in the same way, the ‘Fat Babies’ series brings attention to the unfortunate, predetermined reality her subject matter will inevitably face in their lifetime, confronting the viewer with a myriad of emotions.