This body of work is a direct product of my childhood, embodying the experiences of being bullied, the cruelty of children, and growing up as a ‘fat girl’. Growing up on a steady diet of cartoons, cartridge video games, and isolation, I have decided to revisit these experiences not only to understand them but to also lay the past to rest. The torment children receive at the hands of other children is brutal, and even more so in current society. The savage nature of children, coupled with their innocence, creates a contradicting figure. In my eyes they become deformed beasts, maimed humans, and grotesque demons.
As I revisit these experiences, I also work to revise them: in this world the bullied have the tools and weapons to defend and fight back, slaying their own demons and being free from their power. By fighting my own childhood demons in my work, I am able to put down the demons of my past.
Tessa Shackelford holds a BFA in studio art, a BA in Art history from West Virginia University, and an MFA in printmaking from Northern Illinois University. She currently runs DumbKat Press (est. 2008) in Philadelphia. Her work has been exhibited in West Virginia, Malaysia, Mexico, Illinois, Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Pennsylvania. DumbKat Press is an experimental print space exploring innovative processes and cross-disciplinary projects.
See more of Tessa Shackelford’s work on her website.