A! Magazine for the Arts

Shay Reynolds

Shay Reynolds

Arts for Youth Spotlight: Shay Reynolds uses art to communicate

March 31, 2021

Adrianna (Shay) Reynolds, a senior at Emory & Henry College, recently took some time out to answer a few questions.

A! Magazine for the Arts: What is your background in art? How did you get started?

Shay Reynolds: While I’ve always loved art and have always been encouraged by my family to be creative, I didn’t start creating art until seven years ago, the summer after my freshman year in high school. I had been dealing with some difficult emotions and trying to come to terms with them, and I just needed a release. I started to create art mainly for other people’s enjoyment so that I could live vicariously through their happiness of having something drawn for them. I didn’t feel like a “true” artist, however, until my junior year of high school when I started to create art for myself based on my emotions.

A! Magazine: What interests you most about art?

Shay: I think the culture of art is very interesting. This isn’t something new or modern, but something that has been around for centuries. As complex as humans are, we are very simple-minded sometimes. Shiny or beautiful things just attract our attention, and we collect them. Yet, we try to make something original and unique, something that portrays ourselves or our thoughts and feelings. Creation, I think, is just a part of who we are as humans, and I think that’s beautiful.

A! Magazine: How are you involved with art? How does your identity influence your art?

Shay: I’m a Studio Art major in college, and I have been working at Emory & Henry College’s McGlothlin Center for the Arts Gallery as a gallery assistant and social media coordinator since Fall 2018. I am also interning for the William King Museum of Art.

My identity heavily influences my art, more so than anything else. All of my current works are about my identity, as I will explain in a bit more in detail later. I recently discovered that I identify as androgynous and non-binary, which means I connect with both masculinity and femininity, so this realization ended up inspiring me to make my current series of collages about discovering more about my identity and accepting those parts of myself I was previously hiding from the world.

Shay: Who are your influences (either teachers, artists, etc.)?

Shay: My primary influences would be Cy Twombly, Hui Chi Lee, Jennifer Davey and Amanda Burnham. I am inspired by Cy Twombly’s handwriting within his paintings, Hui Chi Lee’s use of hair in her installations, Jennifer Davey’s use of handwriting and translucent layers, and Amanda Burnham’s way of tearing and crinkling paper in her installations. I also have to say that having Charles Goolsby as a professor during my time at Emory & Henry College has influenced me as an artist to be able to be proud of my work and think about it critically.

A! Magazine: What does art mean to you?

Shay: Art is really about communication, for me. It isn’t just looking pretty or interesting, it’s about being able to show your viewer what you want to say and why. It’s about the bond and conversation between artist and viewer, or even to an entire community at times.

A! Magazine: Describe your style/approach.

Shay: My work is abstract, descriptive and linguistic. I create mixed-media collage paintings on canvas about my identity, my insecurities, my connection with others and accepting myself as I am. When I start my collages, I start with a blank white canvas and start writing in graphite on it about whatever that piece will be about, then I emphasize certain words or phrases and create another layer of writing with paint pen, charcoal, chalk pastels or markers. This writing, which is made up of quotes, poetry, fiction etc., is more often than not illegible to the viewer and can be backwards, upside down, in any direction or overlapping. After my writing layers are finished, I will do a wash of two to three colors of acrylic paint. After drying, I will write back into it and do a more opaque layer of paint, and so on. After these layers of writing and painting are finished, I will collage paper, twine, glass, embroidery and other materials onto the canvas, and then I will do one or two more cycles of writing and painting.

A! Magazine: Age, parent’s names, hometown, school, grade

Shay: I am 21 years old and am a last-semester senior at Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia. I live in Lenoir City, Tennessee, with my parents Mike and Tammy Reynolds.
To learn more aboutShay, vist