The Day Beanie Went to the Lake, 1997
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Pastel on paper
22.38 x 30 in
"The Day Beanie Went to the Lake" is an original pastel on paper from 1997 by Della Wells. It is signed at the lower right. The image depicts a man and a woman in the foreground of the picture in wedding attire with boats and water in the background. Their wedding is presumably the reason the couple is at the lake. Included in the picture are a number of symbols that appear often in Wells' work. For example, a dog on the left hand side of the picture seems to be offering the bride an apple, a reference to Eve and the Garden of Eden. The bride has two chickens securing her veil. For Wells, chickens refer to a traumatic incident in her childhood in which she learned that in order for some things to live, others must die. An eye, which in Wells' iconography represents the all-seeing eye of God, appears on the man's hat. A spectral hand reaches up from the bottom of the picture. Despite the presumably happy occasion, the picture portends a possibly negative outcome. 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.