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From Us in Charcoal: Shelby

Meet Shelby Barthelemy (she/her) — a photographer for Charcoal since Fall 2021. Shelby is currently a senior studying economics.

Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Shelby grew up around a strong Haitian community. She values finding ways to tap into her culture in her day-to-day life. Listening to Kompa (a genre of dance music derived from Haiti), speaking Creole, and cooking her favorite dish (Sos Pwa Nwa) are ways for her to connect with her roots.

“I think I am more aware of who I am and how I want to operate within the world."

Initially entering BU as a biology major, Shelby’s college pathway has consisted of moments of growth and awareness. After an enlightening conversation with one of her friends, she realized she needed to value her own desires.

“I think I am more aware of who I am and how I want to operate within the world. I am more conscious about the decisions I'm making because I have that understanding,” she said. Along with switching majors, she began pursuing the interests she truly enjoys.

Shelby’s journey with photography started when she was in middle school. She began capturing the world through her own lens after her dad gave her a film camera.

“Photography was my way of creating what I had in my head, it allowed me to share the things that I notice that sometimes other people might not notice.”

After telling herself to make the most of her senior year, Shelby decided to contribute her personal passion for photography to Charcoal. “It’s always nice to have your own idea being executed and I was only able to do that because I was a part of the creative team, where I have the freedom.”

With a love of all mediums of creative expression, Shelby has started to relearn piano. “With photography, it's more like a process, whereas with music it is in that moment and instantaneous,” said Shelby. “Sometimes I want to create right now and not have to go out to take a picture.”

Shelby also has a heavy interest in museums, interning for Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts conducting research, writing, and curating exhibitions. “There are so many people creating art around the world and your whole job is to find them, research them, and start conversations around their work,” she described.

“Art is kind of why we live. It is a natural instinct. It is cool to make sure that is able to continue and give people an incentive to create.”

An exhibition she worked on, LIFE Magazine and the Power of Photography, tells the history of the publication and is going to be displayed at the MFA this October.

“Patience is key”

When asked to define herself, Shelby said, “Patience is key”. As she moves toward her future, she looks forward to the little things in life, such as having her own garden and continuing to share her work with others through learning.

Make sure to come back and read more From Us in Charcoal.

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