Mac Shelton

Self Portrait- Mac Shelton

Mac Shelton is a 2nd-year student at Southwestern College (Santa Fe, NM) pursuing her master’s degree in art therapy counseling (ATC). Mac Shelton’s academic studies began in 1990-1993 attending the Art Institute of Dallas and earning an Applied Arts degree which launched her graphic design career. Moving to Austin led her to a 14-year career with a Fortune 500 company. A year later Mac would experience the wreckage of a house fire losing all personal possessions, artwork and portfolio, tools and supplies. It is this experience that would seed her interest in volunteer work with the American Red Cross. At age 50 she experienced another life transition which led to a return to Dallas. Having access to a studio she began to paint again after 25 years, building new applications while harnessing previously learned skills. In 2017 Mac fulfilled a calling to move to San Antonio allowing her to find her purpose through service while creating new paths of discovery through various connections made. The shutdown of the pandemic permitted the time necessary to complete her BA in Psychology. Mac immediately enrolled in a Master’s study program in Clinical Counseling. During the 2nd year of the pandemic, she discovered a new program that was true to her heart’s nature and transferred to Southwestern College based in Santa Fe, NM. The pandemic has made it possible to attend this program as an online student in which she is currently enrolled. Mac is a true believer in art’s abil

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Artist Statement of Work

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Moving to San Antonio in late 2017 allowed Mac to fully embrace autonomy and to nurture her full artistic potential. While attending her first spoken word event in San Antonio she had the pleasure of meeting the poet laureate Ms. Andrea Vocab Sanderson where she was filled with a heart’s desire to paint Vocab’s portrait. Approaching Vocab with this personal quest, she was warmly received and her proposal accepted by Vocab despite not having examples of her work to show. Vocab had just been nominated as the city’s poet laureate and it was very exciting to be so close to creative success. A later discovery revealed that Vocab had a reputation for raising emerging artists into opportunities that would allow them to be seen and heard. The result of Mac’s brave proposal would be Vocab’s choice to use the portrait on her first published book and cd, thus fulfilling a long-held goal dating back to her days at the Art Institute of Dallas.  In March of 2021, Mac was approved to be included among the city’s approved list of working artists by the SA Department of Arts and Culture. Her creative passions are centered around social justice issues choosing subjects that are not what most consider mainstream or even pop culture but that they have left an unforgettable impression. During one of several documentaries watched during 2020, she watched one interviewing Nina Simone. In the film, Nina was asked why she was different from other popular black performing female artists of Jazz and Blues given her talent.  After declaring her training beginning with the church and earning her a scholarship to study classical music, Nina explained that as an artist she had a responsibility to inform the truths about race disparities through her work and to her audiences unaware of the social differences. Mac holds a deep appreciation for Nina Simone and the struggles endured in her lifetime, feeling that Nina was largely misunderstood and unappreciated for relentlessly advocating for equal rights and at the cost of limiting her career. It is in some small Mac also feels moved to inform the observer through her paintings and to support efforts towards collective healing that might lead to the desired change of many through individual response and community engagement.

In 2020 Mac was invited to participate in her first public show at Black Dot Studio presenting work on White Supremacy. Next in 2021, she was invited to collaborate on a joint project with Vocab Sanderson and Ernie Ramirez through the Carver Community Cultural Center. The project is part of the Cultural Connections Storytime with a reading of “Radiant Child” by Javaka Steptoe on the life of Jean Michel Basquiat. Mac’s role during the filming of this reading would be to illustrate a Basquiat study as Vocab was filmed reading. During the fall of the same year, Mac participated in Art Pace’s annual “Chalk it Up” event through team participation for the year’s theme, “The Spirit of San Antonio.” The project honored the traditional owners and stewards of the land recognizing their connection to water, land, fire, and community while depicting a blend of contemporary Hispanic/Latinx cultures with the Indigenous population of the Coahuiltecans.  This would become Mac’s first experience painting with chalk and the largest scale of work produced.

In the wake of last year’s school shooting in Uvalde, Mac initiated a project to memorialize the victims as felt by San Antonion’s, by inviting neighbors and other creative associates to partake. Mac went door to door presenting her idea for communal healing by offering a 10 inch wooden cross to be decorated and later collected for the final installation. The proposal was made for the installation to be inside Brackenridge Park at a remote location accessible by foot or bike but visible to all who might encounter it. It was later revealed by several participants that the activity provided families the opportunity to engage in difficult yet necessary conversations with their kids. Some of these discussions focused on family planning, some addressed personal fears and concerns, while other conversations focused on honoring the Uvalde families and the loss of their community members. The residential block is made up of mostly single-family homes replete with a dozen or so children ranging in age from 3-12 many of whom were not known before this project. Volunteers offered to help with the installation displaying a cross for each of the 21 lives lost and hand-painted signs with “Uvalde” along with one listing the names of the victims and acknowledging the 22nd life of husband Joe Garcia to wife and teacher Irma. In the weeks that followed items had been added to the site such as a bible, children’s books, an Iron Cross, and some beanie stuffed animals. It soon became evident that the installation touched a wider that invited passersby an opening to honor their personal grief while connecting to the community at large over this historical tragedy. This project emphasizes the true nature of art’s healing potential and ability to connect the community.

In December 2022, Mac initiated an Open Studio night introducing mono printing to her neighbors. After discovering her immediate neighbors within her building were artists of some form (dancer, performing, and sculptor) the intention was (and remains) to engage all neighbors in a socially fun activity where anyone could (be) and everyone is an artist. The group continues to meet once a month to explore new techniques and mediums from a collective wish list. Mac is currently developing a schedule to host weekly art classes in a space called “The Green Room” which is adjacent to the Alta Vista neighborhood store Oscar de la Tienda.  In 2024 Mac will present her first-ever solo show through the invitation of The Carver Community Cultural Center. This will give Mac the opportunity to complete and present her social justice series which has occupied her heart for several years.

Having a deeper appreciation for the healing potential of art, Mac’s quest in becoming an art therapist counselor is to specialize in disasters by bringing art to those directly impacted. As documented by research, art can effectuate profoundly positive responses for reducing trauma’s long-term effects when offered/engaged during the initial phases of recovery. When art is used in this healing capacity new relationships are formed thereby strengthening communities as it foments recovery to becoming actualized for both individuals and the community at large.

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