ROBERT SELBY


My arts career began as a newspaper illustrator at the Providence Journal, a post that came with a virtual "stage door pass" to the world. I've worked as a sketch artist in the U.S. Supreme Court and in federal and state courts. I've been to to  sea - as far as the Arctic Ocean in one deployment - to observe and research for painting commissions, several for the U.S. Coast Guard. I've been to Central America to document the work of an aid group on behalf of Guatemala’s poorest, and into my own neighborhood to chronicle the lives of the homeless in the streets of Providence and the well-heeled on the America’s Cup yachting  scene in Newport. My awards for that work include recognition by the Society of Illustrators of New York, The Society of Newspaper Design, and the Associated Press. ​​
     
My parallel academic career began while I was still on staff at the Journal with courses taught over the span of fourteen years at the Rhode Island School of Design.  Academia coupled  with Journalism even took me to live in Spain for several months on a Fulbright research grant. ​Thereafter I taught for four years at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and twelve years at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, much of it  focused on fundamentals like 
 drawing, painting, perspective, anatomy, and color theory.  I am currently co-teaching a course
at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York in which we attempt to explore the very roots
​of art. 

Art for me is what everything else is not. I consider myself a painter but I sculpt, too, which may explain my fascination with the tension between real and illusionistic space. I  believe in the value of the figurative in art to create what Suzanne K. Langer called  discursive symbols.
and I contend that the power of the image to transcend mere representation
allows visual art to become the very "articulation of thought." By way of
the image, I believe, we are not presented with  a static representation
of a thing we are, rather,  guided to a portal. I am married and living
happily in the Adirondacks of northern New York where I am at
work on my latest endeavor, a project I am calling “Doors Without
​Walls,” an exploration of my childhood in the segregated south.