From a young age, I have been processing the majority of my life through art, and I have thus developed a visually emotional style. A lot of my work concentrates on the darker aspects of the human psyche, and the ways in which light is found through processing those dark emotions.

On November 1st, 2019 I witnessed a suicide. A woman jumped from the overpass I was driving under, bringing the cars in front of and around me to a screeching halt. It didn’t feel real at first, though my breathing got progressively heavier as I kept driving. Things were strange for a long time after that. I cried once on the street and once in the airport seeing women who looked like the woman that I saw sprawled out on the highway. The ripples this event left in my life still echo through my mind, and I’m sure the minds of other witnesses echo quite the same. It always blows me away how so many other people experienced that event too, just through different eyes. The pain of that event changed my entire life and made me more open to experiencing it, but that was entirely because I didn’t run from the problem. For the first time in my life I stood my ground and faced the daunting thing in front of me. It opened my eyes to the transformative power of dealing with our traumas through self-expression.

I don’t think I knew what trauma was before. Not that I hadn’t had trauma in my life, but I didn’t know how to separate my trauma from myself before this. Before this happened, traumas before had felt like my fault, like karmic retribution. It always felt like I deserved it. This trauma was different, it cracked me open rather than tore me apart. It cracked me open to humanity, our connectedness. It made me realize that every single person has burdens that they take on like dozens of knots forming under our skin. The more I unravel the knots under my skin, the more I lean into my fears; the deeper I can be a part of this.

What I’ve learned about pain is that it’s not quantifiable. I can never fully capture how this event still seeps into cracks of my life months later. We can’t fully begin to understand the profundity of pain in each other, but it has helped me to know that there are things that seep into the cracks of all of our lives.

My ghost series has been my contemplation and exploration of our mortality. I was afraid of it for so long, but the events in my life the past few years have forced me to face death and see past the fear built around it. Each piece is a different variation in the theme of death and the energy we leave behind when we go on. Doing this work has helped me grapple with my own mortality as well as that of those around me. This series has not only helped me unravel my trauma, but also given me the time and space to think critically about death and thus how I live my life. I’m grateful in the end.

– Calli Scarborough 2021


My art is a physical representation of my search for identity and peace in a world driven to make us insecure and anxious. This body of work followed a period of sickness including but not limited to a tumor in my thyroid and hospitalization from salmonella that greatly influenced my perspective of the world and thus influenced my art. The somewhat disturbing figures are almost confrontational, urging you to look deeper and to question their emotions.

I make art because it has always been the most natural way of communicating for me. It provides emotional release and helps me work through emotions and feelings that are difficult to put into words. This body of work consists of various pieces using ballpoint pen, oil paint, and mixed media. I represent my ideas often with the human figure, though abstracted in various ways. The most notable abstraction being my use of color, which is very vibrant. These vibrant colors represent the heightened state of emotions, both the highs and lows, that I often feel simultaneously. I represent my ideas this way because it most adequately encapsulates the way that I feel and more broadly attempts to touch on the range of anxieties and emotions that we all feel due to living in such a fast paced and detached society.

I derive my subject matter primarily from my own emotional experiences as an attempt to articulate my feelings. However, a lot of my subject matter is also inspired by the life around me and how I believe that others feel collectively as well. I try to capture the emotional experiences that we all go through that often remain under the surface. These brightly colored compositions are a deeper look into my own psyche, but also an exploration of human emotion as a whole. I was taught to use color sparingly and only paint and draw from observation, both of which I have veered away from. Though I think drawing from observation has constantly informed my work, I feel the most creative freedom when working from an internal space. My artistic influences have varied greatly throughout my life, and have varied from traditional oil painters to directors and even tattoo artists. I am greatly inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat and the way his art was so free in its approach but so moving in its message.

This body of work runs parallel to me beginning to question many aspects of our society that we often take at face value, and the emotions that evolve out of that questioning. It is a look at a deeper part of myself. In a society that benefits from us working on a superficial plane, my work is an exploration of what’s beyond that. It’s a search for what’s truly human in each of us, an invitation to look deeper and be confronted with the confusion of it.

– Calli Scarborough(2019)