Skully Gustafson is a painter currently based in North Carolina. Through obsessive layering and bold color, her paintings create realities by playing with abstracted human and animal figures, loosely recognizable spaces, and emotional mayhem. Subjects may stem from everyday life or might be spontaneously born from a chance gesture which the artist noticed and surrendered to. Emotional rawness within a flattened pictorial plane creates a psychological depth that transcends the distinction between the subject and the viewer. The paintings become reflections on the complexities of being human. They are non-rational, ever changing, and elusive. While leaning toward joy and pleasure, the paintings still entangle in the sufferings of all beings, often provoking a confused sense of humor. Tenderly and compassionately abject, they use esoteric and otherworldly imagery to come to terms with the painful nature of the state of the world.
Skully grew up in Wausau, WI, and in 2008 moved to Milwaukee to study at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, as well as attending a semester at the New York Studio Residency Program through the School of Visual Arts in 2011, and earning her BFA in Integrated Studio Arts from MIAD in 2012. After graduating, that same summer, she had her first show at the Portrait Society Gallery and is still represented by them. She's been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions around Milwaukee, as well as a two-year residency at RedLine MKE. She also operated a DIY space from her store-front studio, called Four Wheels, which hosted exhibitions, performance art, and music shows for six years. She has been the subject of numerous publications including; Generous Magazine, Milwaukee Bent, Stoop Kids, Urban Milwaukee and the Shepherd Express. In the summer of 2020, she relocated to North Carolina, where she continues to work on her art full-time. She has since come out as a trans woman and no longer uses he/him/his pronouns, her pronouns are she/her/hers. Her work is informed by her identity as a queer, trans femme, and explores the complexities of sexuality and gender through the subjects of her paintings.