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Work Samples

Before I Begin

Kindness, black collage art, mixed media, acrylic, emotional wellbeing
11x14 mixed media collage on canvas.

Facing decisions

Teachers, decision, female body, stress, wellbeing, wellness
11 x 14 mixed media collage on canvas

Watch the little foxes

Value, self worth, awareness, black women, fries, self love
11 x 14, mixed media collage on canvas

Survivor's Spirit

Cancer survivor, black women, october, collage
2021, 11 x 14 inches, Mixed media collage on acrylic.


About Tonya

Harford County

Tonya Blue Shelby's picture
"Stop thinking about art work as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences" (Brian Eno).  Tonya Blue Shelby also known as Shelby Blue began making mixed media collage art in 2017 after experiencing physical burnout and systematic bullying from the school system she worked for. Collage art became her space of refuge and a conduit for peace to restore positive well-being. Her collage portraits tell the narrative of the societal and emotional ills women face and beckons... more

The courage to surrender

As women of color, community is the core of our existence. Consulting before decision making is the key to our success. It's not about having the right answers, but asking the right questions. This series inquires you to interrogate your thought patterns of who you are and who you have yet to become. For many of us the answer is the question and who we allow to be our number 1 consultant. This series leaves you wondering and asking questions and the beckons courage to follow the advice.

Teacher Trauma

 I resigned from the school system before Covid unveiled the discrepancies educators had known for years. I left because the school system didn't care about my wellbeing. I left because my voice and my value to the profession was deemed unimportant. This series of work is titled "Teacher Trauma!" Many do not know of the anxiety educators endure on Sunday nights before heading to school on Monday. Each day many of my fellow colleagues walk into schools emotionally, spiritually, and physically torn. They are wondering how they will make it through the day, to winter break or the end of the school year. Wondering if leaving the profession is there only hope for peace while they teach in pieces.

Graffitti Girl's solve problems

Every problem has a solution. The answer lies in the questions you ask yourself. Graffitti girls have problems share the answers to their questions in the colors, patterns and in the words that surround them. Zoom in.

Proverbs 31

Have you ever felt the presence of a woman before she enters the room? Her smell, her esence shifts the atmosphere before she utters a word. Proverbs 31 talks bout the charactersistics of a good wife. I believe these virtues are  already within everyone woman before they are found by their husbands. The series, Proverbs 31 captures the beauty of women from Baltimore in black and white,  while the colors around them express the virtues they possess. Featured at Jubilee Arts Center in the summer of 2022, I present to you Proverbs 31.

The Shed Experience

It's time to uncover our faces and let the scales of doubt and uncertainty fall from our eyes. Let's shed what others have said about us and remove the labels that are now liabilities! Welcome to the Shed Experience!

Women's History in black, white, and color

This project was created to honor the women who have paved the way for women of color to be seen, valued, and heard. The women of the past are in black and white while their legacy lives on/ through the women of today in color.

We still fighting for us?

The 100 year anniversary of Women's Suffrage continues to illuminate the societal ills women face even after winning  the right to vote. We continue to fight for the right of choice, fair wages, health and freedom. This multi media collection speaks the words of the unsilenced woman of 2019. 

  • The Matter of Choice- Abortion

    abortion, choice, plan b, my body, motherhood, Roe vs Wade
    Our bodies, our decision! In some states congress has decided it is up to them if a woman must become a mother. The Rules of Engagement have changed, the words on this woman's body display the words thrown at her when the decision is hers.
  • Wages

    Fair wage, pay, women, suffrage
    We do the same job and I am paid less. This multi media image tells the story some women have in their heads. We must work like a man and make unrealistic decisions to maintain the stuff on our desk.
  • Finacially Illiterate

    finance, illiterate, debt, suffrage, women, spending, retirement
    This multi-media collage challenges women when it comes to financial responsibility. We are targeted to spend, thinking its what we need and are left with inadequate means for retirement.
  • A slave to the mind

    bondage, mental health, women, fear, attitude, shamed, like
    This multi-media collage displays the bondage many woman have become entangled in- their minds. Trauma is never manifested the way it is experienced. Many woman are in a personal bondage because they are afraid to seek help. Being liked drives us to being in bondage. Good mental health is imperative for all.