"America, How Does Your Garden Grow?' is an original pastel by Della Wells. It pictures a blond girl holding a black doll in a verdant garden-like setting with leaves and apples and pears. The vines appear to be serpent-like, and the girl's tentative expression seems fearful. The pastel appears to depict an Edenic setting in which the girl must make a decision.
Born in 1951, Della Wells grew up in Milwaukee. As a child and young person, she did not want to become an artist but a storyteller; to this day she considers herself to be a “visual storyteller.” She sold her first work of art at age 13, but she did not begin working as an artist until she was 42. She has said, “I didn’t do anything for a long time, because I didn’t think I had anything to say. You can draw, you may know how to do things technically, but I think to be a true artist you have to have something to say. You have to have a vision.” Her creative process stems from her personal experiences and her works are often inspired by her troubled childhood. Known for her collages, drawings, dolls, paintings, and pastels, Wells creates a magical land called “Mambo” populated and ruled primarily by black women. Like Blackmon, Sparrow, and Gee, Wells is also self-taught and her work has been successful in “outsider art” venues, including the Outsider Art exhibition in New York. Wells’ art is exhibited in more than 100 private and public collections. Her work was purchased by the Smithsonian. Her collages are sold at the National Museum of African American History and culture.