Current Graduate Students

Shelby Hanson

MFA Candidate


Personal Summary


Shelby Hanson was born in Merriam, Kansas and grew up in Manassas, Virginia. She graduated from James Madison University as an honors scholar with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art, concentrating in Printmaking. Shelby has since relocated to Missoula to pursue a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Montana. She is a print assistant for MATRIX Press, where she works with recognized printmakers to produce limited edition prints.
While living in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Shelby curated local exhibitions, coordinated the School of Art and Design's first professional advising seminar through Kappa Pi, and assisted in securing funds for the school's Arts Entrepreneurship and Professional Development Series. Shelby has exhibited nationally in Virginia, Nebraska, and Montana.
Shelby's research explores themes regarding body, identity, and time through fiber arts and printmaking. Her work is about documenting the nature of her familial relationships and their predisposition to change, in order to articulate the precarity of the familial system. She has become interested in the use of data visualization as a method of seeking new understanding and as a means to highlight the futility of mapping such information. 

Artist Statement:

“…documentation assists understanding, helps to turn a visual representation into more precise evidence, and may even signal that the display is explanatory…” (Edward Tufte, Mapped Pictures: Images as Evidence and Explanation)

My work examines the precariousness of family systems through the use of registers. These registers are visual documentation and tangible evidence of my familial relationships— biological and adopted, extended and nuclear, close and distant—at this time. Curiosity of our origins and the desire for connection are inherent to the human experience. However, these characteristics are also accompanied by our propensity for detachment and estrangement.

I seek to articulate this duality by using processes, like sewing and printmaking, to signify the contrasting dysfunction of the familial structure. These are methods that require repetition, order, and predictability, which are elements that are desirable because of their consistency. While one must continuously work to preserve connections, stability and permanence are not guaranteed. Additionally, relationships necessitate time and imply change. Relationships require time in order to develop and strengthen, but time is also a catalyst for destabilization and fragmentation. Time is important in my work as I am evaluating the nature of my familial relationships at present. 

Everyone is part of a family system and it is through this system that we have learned to assess and maintain other types of relationships.  We consciously evaluate our relationships on a daily basis through our communication efforts and by our emotional responses to the efforts of others. 



Master of Fine Arts Candidate, University of Montana 2018

Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art with Honors Distinction, James Madison University 2015

Honors / Awards

Kappa Pi