Della Wells

Eye Swallowing Sin, 1997
Pastel on paper
30.25 x 22.25 in
SKU: 8429c
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The image of the eye in Wells’ work is complicated in the pastel, Eye Swallowing Sin from 1997. In this work, many eyes figure prominently in an Edenic scene in which a black woman with an apple on her tongue is being “watched” by multiple eyes that look out from the darkness behind the foliage. This is the moment in which this Eve figure commits the original sin as she is literally about to swallow the apple. She is not a passive figure, tempted by a serpent, however; she appears almost defiant in eating the apple. The eyes stand in judgment and also appear to be menacing. The eye of God, as it appears in many of Wells’ works, does not appear to be watching in this picture. 

Artwork Size: 30 1/4" x 22 1/4"
Frame Size: 39 1/4" x 31 1/4"

Artist Bio:

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 has created a magical land called “Mambo” populated and ruled primarily by black women. Wells is a self-taught artist 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 has been purchased by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Her collages are sold at the National Museum of African American History and culture.