Shelby Freehling

The work I create is an investigation of the growth and transition into adulthood. Through large-scale installations, I reflect over the illusion we experience when we are young. We often remember things as a larger than they appear, and only notice later, as adults, how much are our imaginative minds were at work. My goal is to bring these worlds of fantasies back into light and to occupy enough space, that, even now, as adults, we can still get lost in.


The soft materiality of the pieces comments on the tactility of youth. I hope to emote feelings of being safe and carefree, as the plush fibers offer a sense of touch and comfort. The bright hues of the pieces play on the idea of being attracted to color and saturation; being unafraid to stand out, and desiring objects that do so too. Through this body of work I hope to initiate a conversation about why these skills of imagination are frowned upon, dimmed, and often altogether abandoned as we move and transition into career paths and relationships.


While the fabric and textile based installations contemplate youth and conversion through life’s stages, my current work explores what is ultimately left behind and the blurring, fading, and merging back into the natural earth. Through these pieces I explore the connections of the body with nature and spirituality. Broken furniture scraps are intertwined with sticks, giving into a more structured form, offered as a memorial. My goal is create a sense of curiosity and introspection into what existed here before, at the same time exploring the romanticism in nature and of a passed life. What ideas and notions can the viewer pick up on of the existence before this object was offered? 

University Nebraska Lincoln – BFA

SECCA Logo_Black_Border.png

Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art

750 Marguerite Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27106

Visit for more information.

SECCA is an affiliate of the North Carolina Museum of Art and a division of the NC Department of Natural & Cultural Resources. SECCA receives operational funding from The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Additional funding is provided by the James G. Hanes Memorial Fund.

  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

©SECCA Foundation 2020. All rights reserved.