Matthew Shelton Biography



Matthew Shelton was born in South Carolina in 1974. Following two years at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, he pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.


During his years in Cincinnati, he pursued both music and art with equal instensity. As leader of his bands The Cat Lovers, Me or the Moon, and M.Shelton’s Picnic, he garnered praise for his inventive approach to folk music, using both traditional solo guitar, and more idiosyncratic approaches to songwriting and performance by playing the African mbira, and forming odd chamber music groups featuring bassoon, bass clarinet, piano, saxaphone, and strings. He also was founding member of the Image Afrobeat Band, playing the electric mbira for this large ensemble for the first five years of its existence.

Along with his musical output, he made and exhibited a varying body of artwork during his time in Cincinnati. His whimsical, folk art and comic book influenced Women and Kitties series found considerable attention in non-traditional venues like bars, hair salons, video stores, and cafes.


In 2004, Shelton began his groundbreaking lightbox work that continues to this day. Using a technique of the artist’s own creation, these works feature a meticulous attention to detail, with patterns comprised of thousands of holes, creating mandala-inspired, jewel-like images of light and pattern. These works have been exhibited in numerous venues since, thrilling both seasoned art connoisseurs and casual viewers.


In the summer of 2010, Shelton relocated to Chicago, and continues to create and exhibit his lightboxes in his new home city. His music projects continue as well. The summer of 2011 found Shelton working throughout the city as a street performer, and the creation of a Chicago chapter of his chamber-folk project The Picnic.