Shelley Reed uses art history as a point of departure. She recontextualizes imagery gleaned from such artists as Alexandre-Francois Desportes (1661-1743), Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755), Melchior d’Hondecoeter (1636-1695), and Britain's George Stubbs. Reed’s primary focus has been the rich vein of Northern European art from the mid-17th through 18th centuries, a period of enlightenment and profound interest in science, nature, and the animal world.
Working en grisaille enables Reed to unify the diverse visual elements associated with Netherlandish art and the numerous other historical concepts and images brought from different sources and other times. As she describes the process: It's a conversation with art history that touches on nature, power, aggression, and beauty.