About Shaelin Jornigan

Artist Statement



My paintings focus on central characters and their relationships to themselves, one another and their surroundings. Each work in a given series tells a story, ranging from portraits of local musicians to nonverbal connections between queer bachata dancers to the battles fought by mythological rape victims. Each piece is a focused exploration of empathy through that character’s pain, pleasure, or performance. Simultaneously, each painting is a self portrait, a place for me to reckon with my own frantic, lonely, loving, funny or painful realities alongside those of my characters


I begin with a series of marks that set the tone - a sort of frantic underpainting - which I then incorporate into the composition as background and foreground components. Working in layers, I tie my figures in knots: pulling, tucking, draping and wrapping them in gradients, patterns, and textures taken from life and imagination. Using the concept of collage as a jumping-off point for each composition, I interlock intuitive painting techniques with hard edged shapes and thick impasto techniques. The result is one of energy, momentum and cartoonish intensity - a remix of memory, history and feeling.