For nearly a lifetime, High Desert resident Theresa Polley-Shellcroft has been creating her own, special brand of art in a variety of forms and mediums. The West Virginia native’s works, which include paintings, collages, fiber arts and quilts, are being showcased at Victor Valley College in an exhibition titled, “Finding My Voice.”

It is available for viewing at the school’s Performing Arts Center (during public events) through the end of February and is part of the college’s Black History Month celebration.

Polley-Shellcroft says she can’t think of a more perfect time to share her deeply personal art, which reflects the many facets of her fascinating journey as an artist and an African-American.

“I grew up in the 1950s and '60s during segregation and the Civil Rights movement, so that really has shaped my artwork all along,” said Polley-Shellcroft, the former Apple Valley resident who holds a master’s degree from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.

“I’ve always believed art should be used for social issue commentary and cultural awareness, so that has been my primary focus.”

According to Polley-Shellcroft, her exhibit at the college is a retrospective of her works from 1957 to the present. She said it includes a still-life painting from 1958, as well as of one of an old mill in West Virginia that she created in the 1960s.

“Finding My Voice” also features a couple of paintings inspired by the children who were killed during the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Several quilts themed around Nelson Mandela and President Obama are also part of the showcase.

“I didn’t take up quilting until I moved to the Victor Valley 35 years ago,” said Polley-Shellcroft, who relocated to the area when her husband was stationed at George Air Force Base. “I was looking for something to do and wound up taking a quilting class. I took to it immediately.”

Along with her painting and quilting, Polley-Shellcroft is founder of tps Creative Expressions, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting creative expression and healing through art instruction and exhibits.

She also is an art instructor at VVC and a retired teacher from Hesperia Unified School District.

Down the road, Polley-Shellcroft said she envisions holding healing arts workshops to help those dealing with illnesses find peace and strength through creative outlets.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and during treatment, I would wake every morning and do some sketching,” said Polley-Shellcroft, who is cancer free. “In the aftermath, I realized those drawings were a way for me to express my feelings about what I was going through.

“Hopefully, I will be able to hold healing arts workshops in the community in the near future for others who are going through physical difficulties. Art is very therapeutic and it allows you to express many things you are feeling that you really don’t have any words for.”

From 1 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 27, the public is invited to view “Finding My Voice” at a gallery walk and open house at VVC, 18422 Bear Valley Road, Victorville. Polley-Shellcroft will be on hand to meet and greet participants, as well as answer questions.

The event is free. For more information, call 760-245-4381.