Shelby Roberts

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Artist Statement

Origin Myth started in 2018 as a series of color photographs made in the corridor between Los Angeles and Oklahoma City that he frequently roamed while addressing troubles at both ends. The project expanded in 2019 to include locations in Kentucky and New England while contemplating the remains of those troubles.


Roberts looks plainly and empathetically at the state of the country and our actions as citizens. His work is informed by his family’s

pre-revolutionary war American identity and the schism between his youthful experiences in a more vacant Oklahoma contrasted with his adult life spent in the urban complexity of New York and Los Angeles.


In Origin Myth, Roberts explores both vast and intimate relationships between humans and nature as written on the land, after two centuries in the vein of manifest destiny. Roberts visits historically charged sites such as a contemporary cotton field near Keyes, Oklahoma where the dust bowl began in 1930. He finds the extraordinary in pedestrian sites such as Main Street in Bristow, Oklahoma were Donald Trump support is proclaimed in peeling paint above an equally worn classic American muscle car; or a city park in Ridgecrest, California were a replica of Fat Man, the first atomic bomb, is displayed with a fighter jet. These twentieth century monuments of heroic power replace the iconic equestrian sculptures of an earlier age.

Origin Myth

Limited Edition Prints Available