We had the good fortune of connecting with Shelby Joiner and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Shelby, how do you think about risk?
For me, risk taking always comes back to my own comfort zone. I was taught to continually push myself outside my comfort zone to achieve personal growth and that’s scary. That’s risky. I’ve found that now as a adult, I know when it’s time to take a risk and that mentality has really manifested itself in my career as an artist and technician, but also as a human. This year, for work at Arizona Opera, I’m in the middle of learning a set of skills I’ve never done before. It can be uncomfortable, it can be nerve wracking, but I’ve also found it to be rewarding. And ultimately, it was a risk I chose to take to become more well rounded in a competitive field. Risk can be a friend.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I call myself a painter/dyer, which is exactly what it sounds like but for textiles. I do things like dye yardage of fabric that will be built into an Elizabethan gown, hand paint a silk kimono for our leading lady, and even distress and “destory” a bunch of overalls and Carhartts to make a male ensemble look like construction workers from the turn of the century. It always comes back to the storytelling for me. I love using this art form and medium to help the audience really believe what they’re seeing, and maybe for a short time enable them forget real life. Using my knowledge and skills as a small piece of a larger puzzle is something I hope to never stop doing.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ooo, it would be a busy week! As far as things to do… I’d have to take them to The Phoenix Art Museum because I’m obsessed with what Helen Jean (Curator of Fashion Design) and the fashion department are up to. Then we would bop over to The Phoenix Theatre Company to catch a show and to keep the performance ball rolling we would HAVE to go see the Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra play! One of their members, Chanel Bragg, is also Associate Artistic Director at Arizona Theatre Company. Gotta shoutout my fellow theatre people. We would have to visit Changing Hands because it’s such a great bookstore. I’d definitely take them to a baseball game at Chase Field and hike somewhere out in The Superstitions. I’d even drag them along to bike or longboard around downtown and catch some of that weekend energy! As far as eating and drinking goes, a lavender latte from Copper Star Coffee would be on the list. I love The Dressing Room, they have a cocktail called Rosemary & The Sage that’s one of my favorites. For a more upscale evening, I would take them to The Breadfruit & Rum Bar. And I would probably have to squeeze in a trip to Four Peaks because who doesn’t want spinach artichoke dip and Kilt Lifter? I could probably keep going, but part of what I love so much about Phoenix is that there really is something for everyone.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh man, this could be a very long list… I’ll try to keep it concise. First and foremost has to be Arizona Opera’s Costume Shop. Kathleen Trott, CeCe Sickler (Owner of Blue Collar Costumes), and Victoria Widener have patiently seen me through since the beginning and taught me almost everything I know. Those three took a shot in the dark with me and I couldn’t be more thankful for them. Scott Stallard, Marlu Allan, and Dr. Paul Symchych have very graciously provided the resources to Arizona Opera’s Costume shop over the years that helped enable me to build a set of skills that allowed me to branch out on my own. And I would be remissed if I didn’t shoutout my parents and brother, who are all very artistic in their own right, and my boyfriend who never stops encouraging me.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sjdyeworks/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SJdyeworks
Other: Email- sjdyeworks@gmail.com https://azopera.org/ I will be teaching a Hand Painting Masterclass on December 11 via zoom. Supply kits are available to be shipped so people at home can participate. https://tickets.azopera.org/masterclasses

Image Credits
Rist Photography

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