Collage artist Vitus Shell: ‘Connecting between the new’

On March 16 in the Hunter Alumni Center, Vitus Shell gave a lecture at SUU’s premiere event series, Ask. Ponder. Educate. [X].

Vitus Shell is a collage artist and civil rights activist whose work makes connections between the old and the new. His pieces resemble artwork from the past in an effort to give those previously marked as unimportant a chance to be “deemed important enough to be painted and be represented.”

When Shell calls for models, he wants them to enjoy themselves and be who they want to be. “Eventually, their personalities will come out,” he said. “Finding the model’s pride and unspoken charisma is the point of me making the work.”

In order to fix situations in today’s world, people need to be creative, and this thought process has led him to create empowering Black art pieces and movements such as #WhileBlack.”

Shell is in the process of creating a nonprofit organization called the Black Creatives Circle. “It is a platform for Black creatives to make a change. If you see a problem, you fix a problem,” he said. “I want to get Black folks to see how to fix the problem themselves.”

In his retrospective book “Bout It, Bout It,” Shell explains the political power of just being. He said, “I want to exist in the same way other communities just exist. The idea of ‘just being’ is a political act.”

Shell emphasized networking as one of the last bits of advice to the audience. “In a group, their network becomes your network. Do what you need to do, but don’t overextend yourself.”

The next A.P.E.X. event will be held on Tuesday, March 28, for the Festival of Excellence with guest speaker Roger Launis. 

Article and Photos by: Christina Schweiss