Bringing Art Therapy to the World of Fine Art
Virginia Shelby Helle, known as Shelby around campus, is an artist with an unstoppable vision. A graduate of the Antioch University Seattle (AUS) BA in Liberal Studies program, with concentrations in both Psychology and Counseling, and Arts and Literature, Shelby has used this undergraduate education to launch into multiple fields at once with passion and experience.
Shelby’s undergraduate work provided an encouraging and engaged foundation for social justice advocacy work. Specifically, they are an accomplished public speaker and legislative advocate on multiple issues, including the rights of homeless people, mental health care, women/womxn’s rights, queer rights, and civil rights. As an undergraduate student at Antioch, Shelby participated in a BA course on homelessness that culminated in presenting detailed, qualitative, and in-the-field research–including art and interviews–to Seattle city council members and other leaders around the country. Shelby’s human rights advocacy as part of this project earned them recognition on Seattle’s KING 5 news.
Shelby’s Liberal Studies education has also given them experiences, training, and support to pursue their career as a fine artist, graphic designer, and art therapist. In fact, Shelby entered into the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with Art Therapy program at AUS shortly after graduating from AUS as an undergraduate student. Not only is Shelby a graduate student, which is an accomplishment in and of itself, but Shelby’s art career is so successful that they have already shown art in multiple gallery shows this summer, with two more shows coming up this September.
Art therapy and fine art are two professional fields that use many of the same artist materials to accomplish remarkably different, sometimes even opposite goals. However, as a scholar with a strong background in liberal arts, Shelby is no stranger to creating bridges between different schools of thought, and to applying innovative thinking to fresh, new creative projects. Shelby’s application of art therapy principals to gallery art demonstrates their critical thinking skills in meaningful ways. In Shelby’s words, “For most of my pieces, I quit following the rules of traditional art training and decided to incorporate art therapy principles, in which I trust the process and concentrate on that, instead of on the final product… I actually had an art goer during the opening reception of See My Voice tell me she just hasn’t seen anything like my art before! For me, that is exactly the reaction I’m going for, because it lead to a meaningful conversation. I connected with this person.”
As a Texan who’s made a home in Seattle, Shelby’s upcoming art show this Friday, September 1, 2017, will donate 10% of sales toward providing aid for people in Houston, TX. This show, “Trusting the Process” will be in the Fremont Space Building, in Seattle, Washington. People interested in following Shelby’s art career can get the latest news about their gallery shows, online Threadless t-shirt shop SH Shirts, and more, at Shelby Helle Creative on Facebook.
Interested in following in Shelby’s accomplished footsteps? Our BA in Liberal Studies program, plus concentrations such as Art and Literature, and Psychology and Counseling, can help you on your way.