Shelbie's Artist in Residency
I AM SO EXCITED!!
My name is Shelbie Dimond, I am a fine art analog photographer and dtraditional darkroom printer located in Los Angeles, CA.
You can view my website here.
I have been offered the opportunity of my dreams: a three week artist residency in the heart of Paris, this coming spring. At the end of my residency, there will be an exhibition of the finished pieces from my stay.
Room and board is covered,I just have to get there and pay for food & materials!
I am reaching out to the art & art-lover community to help make this dream a reality.
My goal is to raise $2,500 for my airfare, food, materials, and other expenses (film, processing, paper, train tickets, locations for shoots etc.) Any excess funds will be put towards the trip and project.
I hope to finish the campain before christmas, as airfare is expected to make a jump during the holidays.
My photography is what gives me life. I would say that the ability to express myself through photography saved my life.
If you are unfamiliar with my work and my background here is a little introducition:
I am 24 years old. I was born and raised in a small rural town in Western Michigan. I was born 3rd generation Jehovah's Witness.
When I was 15/16 years old, I began to rebel from the religion/cult (in harmless, normal teenage ways: I wanted to go to prom, have a boyfriend- you know, that scary stuff) so my family decided the best decision for my spirituality would be to remove me from high school all-together.
"Bad association spoils useful habits" was a common phrase I heard being tossed around by elders and my mother and grandmother.
While I was out of school, I came into the possesion of my father's old Canon a-1, which he would use for astro photography (he would take photos of me with comets and the northern lights throughout my entire childhood.)
I began taking photos of mundane life; my first roll of film was images of ice-cycles and my cats. Then, I turned the camera on myself.
Self portraiture became my escape, my way of communication to the world. Back then I hadn't yet found my voice, or rather it was taken from me, but it was the beginning of everything for my life as I know it.
I began posting my images to flickr, and with that I found the first non-JW community I ever belonged to, despite my mother's orders and the counsel given to me by the Elders in my congregation. I quickly began to cultivate friendships with creatives all over the world. These friendships have proven to be stronger than anything I had within my community of JW's. If I didn't have these "flickr friends", I would have had no one outside the religion.
I ended up getting my GED and started taking basic math, art history, biology, english and darkroom printing courses at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, MI.
When I turned 18 in 2010, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. I ended up living in my car in the Sausalito ferry building parking lot for a while, as my (JW) best-friend's family would only let me stay with them if I went into the Field Ministry work full time (door-to-door preaching), which meant 50 hours a month.
While I was looking for a place to live I met my now ex, a non-JW, and he offered to let me stay with him on his sailboat. How exciting.
I wanted to live this new-found freedom. I wanted to make my art & surround myself with people from all walks of life.
I was ex-communicated from my family, friends and the only community I ever knew. I was completely shunned, and completely on my own.
The next 6 years (and counting- still working through all of this) would be the most difficult years of my entire life. I have suffered severe depression, anxiety, PTSD and would later be diagnosed with epilepsy.
While I was living in the bay I continued to take photographs of myself, friends, models and everyday life.
In 2011, I had my first solo exhibition in Sausalito, and since, my work has been shown in various exhibitions in San Francisco (2012), Berkeley (2011), Oakland (2012), Italy (2014) and Copenhagen (2015). I continued to study various areas of interest at the local community college- Laney College, where I studied theatre, journalism and photography.
In 2013 I met photographer Todd Hido, through a mutual friend that had insisted he must photograph me. After our initial shoot, I began working as his studio producer and proceeded to work with him for the next 2.5 years.
At the end of 2014 I was asked to show my work at Brandts Museum of Photographic Art in Odense, Denmark. My prints hung alongside Cindy Sherman and Sally Mann in the "Selfie" exhibition.
I was fortunate enough to visit the exhibition, and when I saw my work hanging there, across the room from Sally Mann, I broke down in tears of utter happiness and disbelief. How had I made it here?
Of the 24 years I have been on this planet, 2015 was the hardest.
For the last 5 years I was scared for my life- I had "turned my back on Jehovah" still believing that I would be destroyed in Armageddon at any moment. I was homesick for my lake and my family, and completely encompassed by guilt. I felt guilty for following my heart- I felt guilty for just wanting to live my life outside of the cult. I felt guilty for my family shunning me. I felt like it was my choice, it was my fault.
Actually- my aunt and cousin literally said it was “my choice” to be shunned. The last time I called my cousin, he said I better be "bleeding out" if I were to ever contact him again.
One day while sick in bed, I began to watch the Cosmos series with Neil Degrasse Tyson. The 24 years of incessant indoctrination began to melt away. I felt a huge sense of relief come over me: I finally began to understand that life, the Universe: it's all so much bigger than anything I was ever taught.
Not too long after this, HBO released their Scientology documentary, “Going Clear.”
I watched it alone one night- tears streaming down my face. It was my childhood- give or take a few things- but with different terms for the practices. The realization washed over me: I was raised in a Cult. My family- all of them- are stuck in a Cult.
I was sick to my very core. I became so depressed for 3 weeks that I could only leave my bed to relieve myself. I finally confronted my father and mother. I explained to them that I was tired of hiding myself, I was tired of feeling guilty, I was tired of feeling scared. I told them it hurt me so much- being ex communicated by my family whom I love so dearly. I told them that not being able to visit home was killing me. I told them that I felt it wasn't fair- how could they tell me that they loved me unconditionally? Isn't that what family is for? Unconditional love?
I am grateful that they offered to help me with therapy. Therapy however, does not make up for such a monumental loss.
During this time period, I began to open up to the online art community (who I consider to be my true family!) Before I realized I came from a cult, I never criticized the practices, let alone on a public forum, for fear of being labeled an Apostate. An apostate is the lowest of the low- apostates are considered "mentally diseased" and my parents could get in even more trouble for the already limited contact they have with me. This is now a badge I wear with honor. But at the time, I felt so very, very alone. And confused. And scared. So, I opened up the only way I knew how, to the only people I thought would care.
The support I received was astounding. The emails, tumblr messages and IG comments were pouring in, offering love and solidarity. I even found a community of over 7k ex-JW's with stories similar to mine.
The only solace I found however, was when I was printing in the darkroom. I began taking traditional darkroom printing workshops at Rayko in San Francisco.
When the summer of 2015 ended, I made the second hardest desicion of my life. I would leave my life in the Bay and move to Los Angeles to start over again.
The last year in LA has been quite an adjustment- settling in took quite a bit longer than I had anticipated.
But not only was it the second hardest decision to leave, it was also the second best decision I have ever made (leaving the JW cult was obviously the first, ha!)
Since moving to LA: I met my absolutely amazing, supportive, loving boyfriend and his family who have welcomed me with nothing but love and open arms; collaborated with highly talented artists including Frank Ockenfels, Lou O'bedlam (aka Lou Nobel- who I owe so much to) Brittany Markert, Davis Ayer and Gershon Kreimer; had my first exhibition in Los Angeles; photographed a major campaign for Yamaha Guitar Development; participated in a burlesque performance and with the help from my incredibly talented and giving friends (thank you Luis and Josh!!), I built my own darkroom in my teeny bathroom.
Sometimes I find myself walking down the street, thinking "how did little ole Shelbie, from Delton Michigan, end up here?"
If you made it this far, I applaud and thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading this.
I thank you endlessly for considering to help me continue to make my dreams a reality.
(Dear Family- if you read this please know that I only love and miss you guys. I am never intentionally trying to hurt you, just like you guys I'm only trying to stand up for what I believe in.)
Please note: GoFundMe takes a 7.9% fee out of every donation. <3
I am still raising funds for film / shoot locations / film / more film / food / train tickets etc.
I am at $1190 of my $2500 goal.
If you wish to support my residency and the exhibition of my work please consider donating / sharing my campaign. THANK YOU
Firstly, I love your work. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Unfortunately, I can relate all too much. I'm sending you good vibes, and wishing you well with this next step.