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Shelley Spira Burns

  • 1515 3rd St, San Rafael, CA 94901, USA
  • #10

Studio Information

Building Name

Marin Society of Artists for Open Studio

Studio Or Unit Number


Special Location Or Visiting Instructions

Marin Society of Artists

COVID Precautions

About The Artist

Artist Statement

Clay’s geologic origin in the landscape that surrounds us, and its significance as one of the world’s oldest sculptural materials has greatly influenced my work.  I draw inspiration from the mountains, rock, and terrain, as well as the ancient cultures that inhabited these lands.

My abstract sculptures are “clay formations.”  The unique qualities of clay, specifically plasticity and strength allow me to explore the shared organic nature of geologic, botanic and human forms.  My focus is on line, texture, shape, shadow and negative spaces.

Each of my sculptures is unique and hand-built, using mostly hand-rolled coils and occasionally altered pinch pots.  It is a slow and ancient process that allows me to create objects that display tension and energy.  Testing the limits of what the material can do, I squeeze, fold, push, scrape, pound, and carve the clay leaving both imperfections and marks.  I continually study the sculpture looking for suggestions of other forms that may invite exploration.

Similar to the experience of viewing a geologic landscape, I want the observers of my art to discover and identify their own forms within my sculptures and assign their own meanings and associations.


Shelley is a ceramic sculptor whose focus is on the hand-building of abstract forms.  She works out of her studio in Sonoma, California.  Shelley has a BA from the University of Illinois, Urbana, an MA from the University of Chicago, and a Certificate in the Appraisal of Fine and Decorative Arts from the University of California, Irvine.  She volunteered at the San Francisco Presidio’s Archaeology Department for many years, and also had an internship in the ethnographic arts department of a San Francisco auction house.  Shelley has studied ceramics with well known artists in the US and at La Meridiana. Her pieces have been in curated exhibitions in Seattle, Roanoke and Healdsburg. One of her sculptures was selected for the Di Rosa Museum’s Inaugural Exhibit “True North” in 2022/2023.


Art Medium(s)

Ceramics, Sculpture

Group Studio Details

I will be showing my work at the Marin Society of Artists in San Rafael both weekends of the May Open Studios.  1515 3rd St & E Street.

You will be able to find me in Space 10.

Contact Information

Artist Full Name
Contact Email Address

Exhibitions & Press

Group Exhibitions


“True North-Juried Exhibition,”   di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art Napa, California 

“Surface:  A National Juried Exhibition Highlighting the Use of Textures and Patterns in Artwork.”  D’Art Center , Norfolk, Virginia

“Gallery 110 12th Annual Juried Exhibition,”  Gallery 110,  Seattle, WA – Juror, Emily Zimmerman, Director & Curator, Jacob  Lawrence Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington


“Bill Shelley and Shelley Spira Burns,” Hammerfriar Gallery, Healdsburg, California

“Garden Art.”  Online Exhibition, Association of Clay and Glass Artists of California


“Sonoma Arts Stroll,”  City of Sonoma and Plein Air Foundation, Sonoma, California

“Created – Artists at the Center,”  Sonoma Ceramics at Sonoma Community Center, Sonoma, California


“13 Years Retrospective Group Show,”  Hammerfriar Gallery, Healdsburg, California

“The Annual Invitation Show,”  The Arts Guild of Sonoma, Sonoma, California


“Shelley Spira Burns and Bill Shelley,”  Hammerfriar Gallery, Healdsburg, California


Open late April to Mid May, 2024
May 4-5 & 11-12, 2024

See You In Our Studios!