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Shawn Pettersen was born in New Rochelle, New York, but has spent most of his life in Southern Florida. He received a BFA from the Ringling College of Art and Design (2003), and an MFA from Montclair State University (2005).

Pettersen’s work is primarily based in sculpture and drawing, and often surrounds themes of displacement, memory, and being lost. According to his artist statement, “by interweaving references to natural disasters, geological history, biblical stories, and American biography and myth, my work attempts to pose a particular sense of loss and longing. In so doing I examine the relationship between epic yet detached historical loss and the confusing, personal, and contemporary issues of displacement.”

His current photographs combine imagery from the NASA space program with documentation of ghost ships from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Pettersen has worked as a graphic designer, creative director, college instructor, jeweler, a courtroom artist, set designer, and studio assistant for artists. He is currently the Fine Arts Technician at the Ringling College of Art and Design.