Shot by Shell Exhibits

November 2023

La Fuerza de Brandeis: The Latinx Portrait Project

This collection of photo portraits represents the diversity within the Brandeis Latinx community. It features students, staff, professors, doctoral associates, core faculty, executive administrators, and department directors who all identify as Latinx. Together, there are seventeen countries represented. Each portrait was constructed by the participants, who wore outfits and held items of cultural significance. At a predominantly white institution, these self-determined images of Latinx Brandeisians will be familiar faces for future generations to come. These photographs prove that Latinx culture not only exists at Brandeis, but will continue to thrive because we know and remember one another. 

It is on permanent display at the Brandeis University Library.

The collection is on permanent display at the Brandeis University Library.

July 2023

Danbury Library Exhibition

Displaying Shelley's first body of work, inspired by her journey through photography. Located at the lobby entrance, behind the help desk.

May 2023

Dunamis Boston Capstone Project

"Home is Within"

This interactive photo exhibit aimed to center the experience of homelessness and humanize the people who experience it. This gallery demanded attention from all five senses, bringing in audiences to confront all the aspects of being unhoused that we rather not address as a society.

Regardless of having a physical home, there are still objects of significance that ground and center unhoused persons. This gallery highlights women in Boston who have found a sense of home at the Women’s Lunch Place. This is a daytime shelter and advocacy center on 67 Newbury St. for women experiencing homelessness, hunger, and poverty.

This exhibition also included a call for material donations like shoes, toiletries, and basic necessities. It successfully raised over $100 in donations for Women's Lunch Place.

Shelley speaks at Dunamis Boston about her immersive photo exhibit.

Woman holding cross in her palms.

 Mother’s Cross

Pictured is Kathy B. 

She finds nature welcoming, speaking fondly about the Arnold Arboretum and long walks at Franklin Park.


She has experienced homelessness and has found community at the Women’s Lunch Place for eight years.


She carries her deceased mother’s cross with her.

Woman holding owl ring in her palms.

Ring for My Son

Pictured is Zenaida.


Hailing from Puerto Rico, she has experienced homelessness various times in Boston and Philadelphia. 

She emphasized how our plans and realities don’t align sometimes, but nonetheless she thanks God. 

In her words, we must learn to co-exist because nothing in this world is perfect. 

She wears an owl ring because it is her son’s favorite.

Woman holding out her empty palms.

“I Would Like to Hold My Original Titties”

Pictured is Angella Theirse. 

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Angella is still experiencing complications after several surgeries. 

She is starting a non-profit called Tears to a Smile Against Titty Cancer. She wants to promote mammograms and teach self-examination strategies. She hopes to begin a community closet to build confidence in others to fight their diagnosis too. 

She recalls being told her diagnosis over the phone during the coronavirus pandemic. She describes feeling like a product, not a patient. 

Woman holding smartphone in her palms.

Connection to the World

Pictured is Eileen. 

She spoke candidly about how people in need of help are subjected to lectures. Most times, she feels spoken to instead of understood. 

She thanked the Women’s Lunch Place for funding a custom rollator for her. 

Her prized possession is her smartphone, which feeds her curiosity. She believes technology keeps us connected. 

Hands that Create

Pictured is Agnes. 

Originally from South Carolina, she is an artist who creates jewelry and crochets. 

She has been visiting the Women’s Lunch Place for twenty years. 

She recalled celebrating her birthday there and expressed deep gratitude for their services. She enjoys the reading and technology classes, along with the art room and daily meals.

Her object was her handmade necklace.

Woman holding handmade jewelry in her palms.
Artistic exhibit about Homelessness includes an installation with tent and trash.

Thank you to Jaypixworx for photographing the event!

Photographer Shelley Polanco poses in front of her photo gallery in Boston.
Two photos taken by Shelley Polanco showing palms with items of importance.
Photographer Shelley Polanco poses in front of her photo gallery in Boston.
An interactive photo gallery featuring a tent to raise awareness about the unhoused experience.
A lamp shining light on worn socks and cardboard signs.
A cardboard panhandler sign and a cart full of trash in a photo gallery.
A shopping cart filled with trash.
Photographer Shelley Polanco poses with her Dunamis Emerging Artist Fellows.