Shelby McAuliffe

Shelby McAuliffe is an interdisciplinary artist in photography and installation work. She graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in May 2015 with a BA in Art, emphasis in photography and a BA in French Studies. She is currently attending University of Colorado, Boulder as a candidate for her Masters of Fine Art in Photography. 

She has spent the last ten years photographing the environment and urban landscapes throughout various countries. Her area of focus encourages study of the relationship humans have to their surroundings and how wildlife has adapted to metropolitan areas. She is  interested in investigating the coexistence of urban and natural environments. She works specifically with environmental/ecological and anthropological research. Combining the arts and the humanities through a visually engaging multi-media experience that extends beyond the gallery walls to the immediate surroundings.  

​Recent work includes her installation of Urban Biophony exhibited most recently at the Museum of Natural History at CU Boulder, funded in part, by the Candace Garlock Curatorial Grant through the Sierra Arts Foundation and the museum. Invisible Disruptions:The cultural politics of fracking in Colorado at the Arbor Institute funded by the 2019 NEST fellowship. McAuliffe has shown work at Sierra Arts Gallery in Reno, NV,  PhotoNOLA, and Araguato in Colombia, South America.

Project Website

Interdisciplinary Media Arts Practices

Place identity is a concept built on spatial relations; cultural and communal connections to seemingly overlooked spaces. My work appears as a narrative through inspection of repetitions and patterns of color and form. Looking at altered landscapes and commodification of nature in natural and manufactured forms. I study the relationships humans have to their surroundings and how wildlife adapts to urban areas. I am interested in investigating the coexistence of urban and natural environments. Combining the arts and the humanities through a visually engaging multimedia experience, which extends beyond the gallery walls to the immediate surroundings.  

My process is not to find how humans are interacting with the environment in a specific moment, but rather, to show the collapse of time as a reference to complex metaphors of human existence. Facilitating a dialogue between diverse perspectives but bringing forth a visible aspect to elements (physical, technological, and human) that interact to create our connections to place.  My work examines the relations humans have to a construct of place. This method studies motivations why people care about seemingly mundane, yet specific spaces. In contemplating how humans and non-human coexist in adherence to landscape. We have a disingenuous result from warping the natural to a synthetic environment. To talk about environmental issues we bring what is outside to be viewed inside. We as viewers make this conversation while simultaneously keeping the outdoors, indoors.

Shelby McAuliffe

Thesis Artwork

Almost Heard: whispers of the desert
Laser cut transparent acrylic and acrylic mirrors, black light and phone flash lights 
6’ x 2’

Almost Heard: whispers of the desert is a collaborative project focusing on the complex relationship one has with a desert. A space and place often overlooked.

One may witness the interwoven passage of time visually, metaphorically, and phenomenologically while viewing Almost Heard: whispers of the desert, in which the human condition is transposed onto an ephemeral plane, both in structure and in reflection. The installation is a transient landscape in light, color, texture and occupied space. The interpretive nature of this art installation is referential to the lava beds and alkali flats of northern Nevada. The Black Rock Desert has gained notoriety for becoming a ‘home’ for tens of thousands of Burning Man visitors, through their relationship to the unbelievably extravagant and fugacious city built to experience for one otherworldly week on the desert floor. That which intrigues me, though, is the identity of the desert outside of this event. The desert as a home for rabbits, for sage brush, and for the elusive fairy shrimp, steeped in alkaline dust and surrounded by the playa’s perimeter hot springs. This project aims to empirically embody solastalgia through anecdotes from the arid playa. This inquisitive art piece weaves the traces of human influence and natural elements of the land through a curated immersive representation of the desert. This is a visual interpretation that stands in sharp juxtaposition to the immense desert often thought of as empty or dismissible. If society continues to embody separability to marginalized landscapes, depleted or void of resources, how can we move forward in effective global environmental change towards any communal ground?