In the Cloud by Shelley Monahan in the Ramp Gallery, August 12–September 9


In the Cloud is a new group of paintings on paper by Shelley Monahan, depicting a series of portraits in various states of abstraction and dissolution. Human faces emerge from within a morass of clouds in a rush of streaks and smears and then return to the digital ether in a scatter of pixels. The work is a visual mash up of humanity and technology, inspired tangentially by the current social climate of the Bay Area.

Clouds are mutable, with shapes that feed our desperate need to see order amidst the chaos. One looks like a house while another looks like a cat. Clouds seem to have their own personality and in San Francisco ours even has a name and a Twitter account. The Cloud in these series of paintings is an active character that rises up and wraps itself around the people, but it is unclear whether its intention is to embrace or to smother. The Cloud can appear fluffy and soft, but it also has a sinister edge. Some of the clouds seem fleshier than the human faces emerging from them. Monahan’s clouds veer visually towards billowing smoke, towering thunderheads, and the edges of a vague and hazy mist.

Monahan’s work deliberately avoids taking a direct stance on the influence of technology in culture, preferring to illustrate the conflict lyrically and leave room for multiple overlapping interpretations.

About the Artist
Shelley Monahan is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in San Francisco. She moved to the Bay Area in 2001 and received her BFA from the Academy of Art University. In addition to her personal work, Monahan is also a digital artist and designer. She spent the last several years working inside the tech industry, creating illustrations and design for digital games. Visit her website

About The Ramp Gallery
The Ramp Gallery, a community curated space in the SOMArts lobby, accepts exhibition proposals on a continual basis. To view submission information as well as past exhibitions, please visit The Ramp Gallery page of our website here. To purchase work on display or for more information email You can visit The Ramp Gallery any time SOMArts Cultural Center is open.

Photos courtesy of Shelley Monahan