Della Wells

Wells is a self-taught artist who was attending collage to become a psychologist when she was assigned to write about a professional person. She chose an artist, who remembered that Wells had the ability to draw. The artist kept encouraging Wells, who started drawing and painting seriously at age 42. Her art is traditional and symbolic, it is unique, vibrant, and funky. She mixes the colors of her pastels and paintings in combinations of such clarity they vibrate with intensity.

Well's art celebrates the wild beauty, radiant colors, and rich textures found in nature. She also uses her studies in psychology, sociology, African American, and women's studies to shape ideas for her work. Della Wells is an extraordinarymixed-mediaa artist. Her work evokes everyday scenes and cultural values. She specializes in pastels, using found objects in her pieces. Her work includes dolls, boxes, cards, painted vests, and more.

Della Wells is a Milwaukee native who has described herself categorically as a self-taught folk artist but admits that these labels do not suit her properly. Rather it is her name that best describes her. She has always been an artist and sold her first work at the age of thirteen, but didn’t start working in earnest until age forty-two. “Throughout my life people were trying to get me to do art,” she says, “but I didn’t have an interest. I didn’t have anything to say.” Della’s work is about storytelling she states, “I make up my own folktales in my work… I like to make up my own realities. I find a lot of people make up their own realities.”

It took some effort on the part of a college advisor and friends for Della to begin seeing herself as an artist; she had ambitions toward a Ph.D. in psychology. Now, Della’s work ranges from collage and pastels to quilting and she has shown all over the United States and abroad. Her creative process stems primarily from her personal experiences, embellished through the art of storytelling into a visual work, “I see myself as a storyteller,” she explains, “…and maybe I’m still finding my story.” Her images reflect her own experiences and occasionally the interpretation of other people’s experiences, her work is about life and therefore living. “Art is many things,” says Della, “I think we tend to think that it’s just paintings and sculptures but art is everything. Art is on this floor... Art is man’s desire to create. Art is also, to find you… Art is how we live our lives.” 


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