Meet the Faculty

Sheli Petersen

Associate Professor of Art

M.F.A. in Illustration, 1996. Savannah College of Art and Design.
B.F.A. in Design, 1990. Missouri State University.

Phone: (603) 897-8489


  • Illustration
  • Design
  • Foundations and Drawing
  • Learning Animation

Sheli Petersen’s art career began at age three with crayon drawings of the solar system. In high school, she earned money doing portraits of various friends and celebrities. After receiving a B.F.A. from Southwest Missouri State University (Springfield, MO 1990), she worked as a graphic designer and illustrator for Kansas City’s art and entertainment magazine, Pitch. For two years, she managed all the art direction for Smith Advertising (Kansas City, MO). She earned her M.F.A. in Illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA 1996). In graduate school, she concentrated on children’s book illustration. Her thesis project, Magali—An Aztec Legend about Good Fortune, is published by Laredo Publishing (Beverly Hills, CA). Her other published work includes Itza—The Boy Who Rode a Jaguar, written by Leonard Bernard, and Voladores written by Patricia Petersen.

Petersen is the recipient of the Children’s Choice Award, the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators Most Professional Portfolio Presentation Award, the Savannah College of Art and Design International Art Award, and the Currier Prize.

Academic Philosophy
I believe the student’s career as an artist, illustrator, or designer begins when he or she enters college. Along with honing his or her talents and skills, today’s student must actively cultivate the professionalism needed to succeed in an increasingly demanding and competitive job market. From day one, I stress the importance of creating a quality portfolio of work that will put each student on a potential career path long before graduation. I assign classroom projects that require a commitment to the process approach and allow for feedback at every stage of development.

Requiring that preliminary work combine life studies, research, and photographic references engenders a deeper understanding of the subject in students and enables them to create richer, more authentic art. By interweaving literature, mythology, naturalism, music, and film into assignments, I also encourage students to synthesize thematic content, layer meaning, and enhance the emotional resonance of their work—all essential facets of strong visual communication.

Recent Publications and Exhibitions Include

  • Drawing Raven Roosting accepted in Picture This! 2012. Juried by Carol Goldenberg, Caldecott Medal winning book designer. Danforth Museum of Art, Framingham, MA • Fall 2012
  • Drawings Owls and Robins accepted in Works in Colored Pencil: A Juried Exhibition. Juried by Kimberly Kersey Asbury, a Fullbright grant recipient and Assistant Professor of Art at Saint Anselm College. Sharon Arts Center, Peterborough, NH • Summer 2012
  • Designed and illustrated package labels and signage for Yew Drop, a company specializing in hand-made solid perfumes, cosmetics, and insect repellent. Spring 2012
  • Drawing Mockingbird and Fox Grapes accepted in the Joan L. Dunfey Memorial Juried Exhibition. Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery, Portsmouth, NH • Fall 2011
  • Drawing Turkey Clan won the Currier Prize (best-in-show) New Hampshire Art Association 62nd Currier Exhibition. Juried by Dina Deitsch, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at deCordova Sculpture Park Museum and Jen Mergel, Beal Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH • Winter 2011
  • Drawing Feather and Pencil published in The Bulletin, the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators international magazine. January – February 2011
  • Drawings The Printmakers and The Judge published in The Bulletin, the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators international magazine. July – August 2010 Drawing Cormorant accepted in the Creative Quarterly 18 On-line Juried International Exhibition. Spring 2010
  • Illustrated concept art for the children’s book Clara y la Curandera by Monica Brown for Arte Público Press. University of Houston • Summer 2009
  • Cut-paper artwork, The Gods, took 2nd place in the Lassonde Juried Exhibition. Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery, Portsmouth, NH • Summer 2009
  • Drawing entitled Sailing Fiasco accepted into the Savannah College of Art and Design 30/30 Illustration Alumni Juried Exhibition. Savannah, GA • Winter 2009
  • Illustrated companion book for the National Heritage Museum Sowing the Seeds of Liberty exhibition. The book features Billy the Patriot Mouse, a character designed to help grade school children learn about the American Revolution. National Heritage Museum, Lexington, MA • Fall 2008

Memorial Hall

For info, contact:
Jackie Madison
Administrative Assistant
Division of Arts & Sciences
(603) 897-8571  

Rivier University Art Gallery