Meet Shelby Sneva!

We’re pleased to introduce you to another artist participating in our Spectrum show. Shelby is a graduate of the local BFA program at WWU and has lived and worked here in Bellingham, building a small business and working in the community ever since.

She has a studio in one of our local cornerstone art spaces, the Waterfront Artist Collective, where she operates her leathercraft business, SOWN Designs. If you’re a local, you probably know Shelby. She’s been in the public in many different capacities over the years: as a market vendor, open studio hostess and a workshop instructor at the Whatcom Museum.

Shelby learned to sew when she was six years old. Her mom was an interior decorator, and would bring her scraps from work to practice with. She first began experimenting with sewing leather in 2003.

The work she is featuring with us for the Spectrum show is a collection of carefully combined leather pieces sewn onto a 24″ square canvas. Concatenations is colorful, asymmetrical composition that I really enjoy for a few reasons. The horizontal line in the center creates a reference to a landscape horizon where a sky and a mirrored surface (or something below the surface) may be looking back upwards. The combination of different types of geometric shapes–sharply angled triangles alongside shapes with more rounded edges create the illusion of something that is growing and living. It’s always interesting to see the inherent relationship between geometry and biology in a visual space, and this piece does that for us. Also interesting is seeing how much ground the artist has covered with just two simple tools: repetition and variety. Within a tight construct of just shape and color, the artist has created a varied rhythm that pulls our eyes from the “horizon line” to the top and then back down again. The texture is playing back up here: she’s put the leather and the fabric together with the even, exact stitching to create a secondary visual pathway. All of this together gives us plenty to observe when we spend time with this piece. And of course, the impeccable craftsmanship apparent in the leather let us know that we are looking at the work of someone who has dedicated many years of practice to her medium. We hope you’ll come in and take some time to enjoy this piece in person.

Mindport Creative Director

Shelby’s website

SOWN Designs on Etsy

sowndesigns on Instagram

A collection of leather earrings from SOWN Designs