Shea Hembrey's work questions reality. He seriously explores our best current understanding of the structure of reality while simultaneously playing trickster. He routinely fictionalizes in both making and presenting art: sometimes he twists identity (he has invented over 140 fictional artists and made their work for them) and sometimes he uses trompe l'oeil techniques in masterful realistic paintings.

Recent projects grapple with understanding our actual reality of rapidly-unfolding environmental disasters. Physically, this focus includes making environmentally beneficial paints, turning ash into an art material, and mass tree plantings for future projects.

Hembrey approaches art by concentrating on a singular, defined conceptual project where the ideas direct what methods and media he uses. Research is key to all of his creative endeavors while he remains a prolific maker of things. While in residence, he plans to make “beautiful paintings that ask big questionsas he explores new materials and processes. 

Though always focused on developing new technical skills on his own, he has a varied formal art education. His nine years of studying art at university include a year spent studying Maori art in New Zealand and an M.F.A. from Cornell University.

Further explore his work online through coverage on NPR, PBS, in a New York Times Magazine profile, and a popular TED talk.

Current Fellow
2023 to 2024