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Humboldt County mixed media emerging artist, Sheala Dunlap, finds herself inspired by the alchemy of materials, intimate connections, and her life in the pacific northwest. Her work reflects her passion for nature with the embodiment of surreal and magic realism styles. These whimsical motifs are emotive representations that conceptually examine ideological paradoxes in post-colonial western civilization.

Her first communal artistic endeavor began with the Tucson Pima Arts Council where she worked with close friends over the summer to design and construct a gateway for their local neighborhood. The process of assembling with allocated resources through community outreach made an everlasting impact on her creative process. She takes pride in being resourceful with mediums and strives to reduce the reliance on the consumption of virgin materials.

Since 2016, Dunlap has exhibited in local art spaces and galleries from afar. She earned several scholarships to assist the completion of her B.F.A. in 2021. Her sculptures have received awards from juried shows, and her illustrations “Abalone Shark, 2019” and “Timber Dance, 2021” have been transformed into murals for Eureka’s Street Art Festival and Humboldt State University’s Forestry building.

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I enjoy working across various mediums because each medium reflects a different side of self-expression. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be wax because of its fluid and solid-state transformations into metal. At a younger age, I was fascinated with melting wax and playing with fire, but I never knew how to preserve the brittle and temperature-sensitive forms. Learning about lost wax bronze casting was the missing link I needed to help heal myself from alcoholism. The other two interests that I find compelling are experimental baking and adventures in nature, which also influence my art.

My illustrations are surreal and emotive representations that come in the form of wet and dry mediums, murals, and prints. I sell my original works, giclee prints (but not giclees of original print-made works because that’s taboo). My drawings are interchangeable across mediums to ensure shared accessibility. I’m open to questions, commissions, collaborations, and exhibitions. As a recent graduate of Cal Poly Humboldt and survivor of everyday pandemic life, I’m looking forward to engaging in more community events!

Bronze Pour

at Cal Poly Humboldt's foundry

Photo credits Kellie Brown

Bronze pour at the foundry. Photo credits Kellie Brown.

Artist Statement

I am a mixed media artist inspired by fluid mediums, industrial processes, and found objects. I make sculptures, illustrations, and jewelry that traces ancestral roots to reconnect with what was severed. My compositions thematically convey internal struggles with alcoholism, gender dualism, mortality, inner demons, and outer monsters. Other external forces that come into play are surveillance and consumption of global resources.

In my artistic process, I convey emotive responses to environmental and social concerns related to post-colonialism in western civilization from a mixed indigenous perspective. I do this by evoking animal spirit symbolism to empower femininity with protective energy. My cathartic release comes from the execution of intensely rendering, fabricating, and assembling. The action of construction and deconstruction is a test of searching for balance and recognition of value at its core. The dismantling and revamping allows me to break down the subservient ideologies that are oppressive and transform them into resilient motifs.

I make molds and sketches of intimate connections, capturing the impermanence of the fleeting moment that connects us to our environment and each other. The embodiment of intuitive elements results in a surreal form with an apotropaic appearance that acknowledges the duality of darkness while striving for the light. With the immortalizing quality of archival materials, a new eternal mythos is born.

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Questions, comments, commissions? Got an idea? Let's work it out and connect through social media!

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