Halley Marie Shaw artwork.




Halley Marie Shaw (HMS) is a queer/pan femme multi-media artist and writer based in Atlanta GA. She has performed and been featured in local venues, though actively connects with artists across the country to create and revise collage works.

As a survivor and pansexual, HMS felt the only way to thrive was to create an alternate universe. She explains, “I change with this series just as I’ll forever be a messy daydreamer. Anorexia took my voice for the better part of my twenties and into my early thirties. The only thing that I ever created was a bottom to hit so I can have some kind of a life.”

“Dirty America"

I would be sweet even to you. Believe me.
So, so sweet.
A float fit for a steady date, you know.
Served up. Striped straw. Supposed innocence.

Make you melt all the way down. You'd see carnation and cherry in technicolor as Lawrence Welk lulled you to sleep. Promise.

I'd be that treat that you chose to sneak into the midnight show in your army jacket and beaten Levi’s.
Something that you took from the corner store when you came in for smokes.

Well-lit by the pinball machine. 
No cops around. 
How could you resist, right?

I'd be a comforting complement to cider if you wanted to put on a mask. Take collections. 

Just remember that even though you're cute, doesn't mean that no one thought twice before they stuck razorblades inside.

I 'd be so sweet.
Every earth mama would come after me with her neon pitchfork.
Sweet topic of articles that warn sternly about what I'd be doing to everyone these days. 
That sweet no amount of water could wash away.

Being sweet. Being sick. Weighing heavily on your healthy conscience. 
What if you kept twisting, turning, fitting, crossing, 
Dripping in sweat?
I would be dripping in Dirty America. Would you still really want me?

When no one is looking, you'd spit me out
Just how you like it spat back into your mouth in the back of the cheap seat theater.
Can't get it from the concession stand. 
Can't bring it to the confessional booth.
You play communion. Take the wafer.
Anything to forget you can't make anyone cry out for God.

You'd get what you wanted. Simple syrup solution.
An indulgence. What I cannot taste. 

Actually, I wouldn't be. 
I strive to be clean. 

Halley Marie Shaw
Dirty America, 2020
Audio Recording
Runtime: 2:46 min.
Courtesy of the Artist

Written soon after entering treatment for an eating disorder, HMS’s “Dirty America” explores the tensions of trendy yoga culture and oppressive dualism surrounding U.S. Western understandings of health and purity. Attentive to the relationships between these trends and patterns of slut-, fat-, and queer-shaming, “Dirty America” offers both an exposure and release of such normalized harm.

Halley Marie Shaw (HMS), set of collage works

The Vessel series has gone through different stages, from poetry to fiction to performance to mail art. The ongoing narrative is based around a fictional music venue called Vessel, the workplace and sanctuary for the fictional heroines. Vessel, in all its Gen-X gaudy glory, still relies on word-of-mouth promotion paired with analog collages for flyers. From inside Vessel’s reverberations, each heroine uses ephemera to hold up a mirror and gently guide HMS on how to be a better human being. They seldom address their beloved “house mouse.” Instead, they lead by example and save themselves.