Shelley Thorstensen was born in 1953 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. As a child she lived in Salzburg, Austria and Stuttgart, Germany before moving to Cherry Hill, New Jersey. She has taught printmaking at numerous colleges throughout the United States. She currently lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania where she is the Director of Printmakers Open Forum.
Her work has been described by Edward Sozanski of the Philadelphia Inquirer as “romantic abstraction” and that her prints are “for the most part palpably emotional effusions”. She writes, “I see my work as a direct expression of consciousness, as in a feedback loop where the bilateral symmetry of the plate to print directly reflects my body, my imprint. I see it as a method to look at myself in a mirror, a psychological means to literally face myself while making work”
Thorstensen has an undergraduate degree in Experimental Studies from Syracuse University, School of Visual and Performing Arts, Syracuse, New York and a graduate degree in Printmaking from Tyler School of Art of Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
She was president of SAGA from 2011 - 2013.