"Strut" is a work of cloth and glitter on handmade paper, from 1999. In this work, Wells presents a regal black woman dressed in glittering finery. Like her collage representations of Mambo Land, a world in which black women rule and, according to the artist, take care of their truths, the work is an image of black female empowerment. She holds her head high as she walks among flowers, which to Wells signify a rebirth of the soul.
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. Wells is a 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.