Shellyne Rodriguez

The ideas in my work center around the notion of false hope as a device at the service of subjugation and the tension present in those moments when apathy is breached by a stealth and insurgent will to live and to thrive. There is an elusive quality in this act. A feeling of evading capture which interests me. The paradox inherent in this tension is located in the disappearance of space, provoked by neoliberalism, hyper-capitalism and globalization in the macro. In the micro, we see this manifest itself in the velocity of gentrification working its way through all major cities and distorting the built environments of city living, relegating poor and working class adults to a roommate economy and causing massive displacement. The question then becomes how can one remain elusive while physical space is disappearing in real time?

Poor and working class people of color have always had to navigate their existence with some version of these problem before them although the particularities of this current iteration bares a precariousness which we have never experienced before.

The rendering of false hope in my work takes many forms and is indigenous to my particular geographic location, The Bronx. Cigarette butts, paper bags and other corner store elements become aesthetic tools. Lottery tickets take the form of thought bubbles, pregnant with possibility, or sagging drops, implying weight and burden.  The found materials I employ reference my local community and also conjures my personal history.  It contextualizes the concerns in my work and invokes issues of race, class, and gender.

My practice is then a recording of the tensions implicit in these concerns conveyed through drawings, collage, text, and object making.  Underlying this interrogation is the intention in my work to put the baroque in conversation with hip hop culture.  Theological investigations by Thomas Aquinas regarding the nature of the sin of sloth which he defined as “a spiritual apathy” and regarded as not exactly a sin because it is rooted in sorrow, hovers in the work as I make connections between the climactic feeling that exists in the possibility present in a blank lottery ticket and the paralyzing sorrow rooted in apathy, driven by the obstacles one faces.

Medieval chimeras and 15th century adages antagonize the work, and are employed to represent malevolent power, as they always have. Ecstatic figures from Jehovah’s Witness tracks filled with an unquestioned promise are collaged into the work, that elation invoking the baroque. Formally, Project hallway walls force the figures in the work, and the viewer into narrow hallways and corners. Space is a luxury. Formal marks and gestures from the graffiti tradition find there way into the composition and together shape the work. To put the baroque and hip-hop culture in conversation is in itself a gesture rooted in hip-hop culture which pulls from world and samples and remixes.  If Schopenhauer is correct in his essay The World as Will and Representation that artists pluck its object of contemplation from the stream of the world’s course and hold it isolated before it, then artists coming from the tradition of hip-hop, which by its very nature is a de-colonial act of hybridity necessary for the survival of its practitioners, smashes multiple things together to make something new. Here is where we might locate this slippery characteristic. The evasive subject that despite the disappearance of space, despite the obstacles of malevolent power structures, manage to bob and weave and transform and survive.

The concerns present in my work are not solely aesthetic, but also concern me outside of the white box and outside of the studio. As artists, we are concerned with space, be it the illusion of space in painting, or the way a sculpture or performance occupies space, or in the cadence of music or the recital of a poem. It seems only natural for us to turn our gaze towards the disappearance of physical space in our lives and in society and to question the neoliberal forces at play, which is the malevolent power structure suffocating us all. These concerns pull me away from the studio quite often. I do not see this as an interruption and I don’t believe anyone should. I am employing my aesthetic power in the service of conserving space thereby shaping space, which in and of itself possesses the power inherent in art.


MFA Hunter College, 2014, Studio Art

BFA School of Visual Arts, 2011, Visual & Critical Studies





Citicien 100 group exhibition, New York NY

Reclaimed Rage; Resistance, Bronx ArtSpace, Bronx NY



Movement Is Rising: Demystify, Destroy, Rebuild exhibition, Newark, NJ

Fragmentacion,  Remix  y  Reinvento,  solo  exhibition,  Casa Warmu,  Quito, Ecuador

We Still Imagine, Make and Read Books, Artist Book fair, Space 776, Brooklyn, NY

Tamir Rice Photo Booth, Window Project, IMI Corona, Queens Museum, NY

Wild Seeds, Temporary Agency, Happy Lucky No. 1 gallery, Brooklyn NY

After the Firmaments Crash Down…What? Thomas Hunter Space, Hunter college




Power, Protest & Resistence, Rush Arts Gallery, NY NY

¡PRESENTE! The Young Lords in New York, El Museo Del Barrio, NY, NY

Sublime of the Mundane, FiveMyles, Brooklyn, NY

Clorox/Envy, Stillhouse Group, Brooklyn, NY

When You Cut Into The Present, The Future Leaks Out, No Longer Empty, Bronx, NY

New Work New York MFA Biennial, Curator: Kat Griefen, Brooklyn, NY

Immediate Female, Judith Charles Gallery, NY NY

Respond, Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY




2015 Artist-in-Residence, Sculpture Dept. Hunter College, NY NY

2014 Shandaken Project Residency, Catskills, NY





Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul by Jeremiah Moss, Harper Collins July 2017

Artists and Activists Propose a “People’s Cultural Plan” for New York City Hyperallergic by Jillian Steinhauer May 2017

The unbridgeable Chasm between The Bronx and Police, Hyperallergic, by Shellyne Rodriguez March 2017



Over 120 Protesters Ask Artis Nonprofit to Clarify “Organization’s Position by Signing onto BDS” Hyperallergic, by Hrag Vartanian Dec 2016

Decolonize This Place, Brooklyn Rail, by Terrence Trouillot  Dec 2016

At New Museum, a Pop-Up Support System for Black Lives Matter, The New York Times, by Tamara Best Sept 2016



Young Lords Exhibit a Timely Salute to Puerto Rican Activism by Azure Gilman, Al Jazeera America, July 2015

Lay on hands: Interactive art show features trashy altars By Danielle Furfaro, The Brooklyn Paper, July 2015

No Longer Empty: The Art Is Fine, But What About the Real Estate? By Corinna Kirsch, ArtFCity, July 2015

No Longer Empty – From Courthouse to Art Gallery and Beyond, Highbrow magazine, by Sandra Bertrand July 2015

In the Bronx, a Pop-up Art Show Is a Lightning Rod for Fear of Gentrification by Jillian Steinhauer, Hyperallergic, July 2015

MoMA Blog: Moving Through the Migration Series: An Interview w/ Kerry Downey & Shellyne Rodriguez by Calder Zwicky, June 2015 





Erasure by Exclusion: How Art Schools and Institutions uphold White Supremacy, SVA Theatre, March 2017

“I Cant Breathe” in conversation with Shaun Leonardo, Feb. 2017

Palante Siempre Palante! In conversation Iris Morales and Miguel Luciano, Studio Museum of Harlem, Maysle Cinema, January 2017

Artists Inside the Gated Citadel…Whats Next? Virginia Commonwealth University, (VCU) Jan 2017



Artists & Gentrification, Decolonize This Place, Artists Space, Oct. 2016

The Let Down, Black Matters Conference, University of Texas, Austin Sept 2016

Lucky Sevens: An Art Salon at El Museo, Lecture, El Museo del Barrio, May 2016

Visiting Artist Conversation Series, Lecture, MoCADA May 6, 2016

¡PRESENTE! The Young Lords in New York, Artist talk, El Museo Del Barrio, July 2015




The Museum of Modern Art                                                                                                                New York, NY

Teaching Artist, MoMA’s Community Partnership Program                                  (2011-Present)


  • Ran partnerships across a variety of educational audiences including incarcerated youth, post-incarcerated adults, homelessness initiatives, immigrant service organizations, HIV/AIDS health services, and more


  • Oversaw hands-on art making projects, facilitated in-gallery tours, led off-site lectures and guided-conversations, and collaborated with participants and staff on the creation a number of new Museum initiatives


  • Collaborated on the curation and installation of MoMA’s biannual Community Partner Art Shows, overseeing all aspects from artwork creation and transportation, through the opening event, to the deinstallation of work


The Bronx Social Center  (Take Back the Bronx)                                                                                      Bronx , NY

Founder and Volunteer                                                                                                                                       (2015- Present)


The Bronx Social Center is a non- funded volunteer run radical community space coordinated by Take Back the Bronx, a  grassroots organization that has been working in the Bronx since 2011, organizing against police brutality, community violence, slum housing, worker exploitation, and for community power and control. The Bronx Social Center offers for free:


  • Access to the People’s Library
  • Art Workshops
  • Summer Freedom School (Political Education for teens)
  • Martial Arts
  • Know your right’s training
  • Community open mic/poetry/ movie nights
  • Tech class
  • Meeting space for autonomous social justice work free from non-profit entanglements