Untitled (Woman with Cross), 1995
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Pastel on paper
30.75 x 20.75 in
"Untitled (Woman with Cross)" is an original pastel on paper from 1995. It is signed in the lower center. The work depicts a woman holding a cross upon which a black figure is crucified. This image may refer to the suffering of African Americans during slavery. Creasing is noted at center left of artwork. 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 attended MATC and UWM, where she studied African American Studies and Women’s Studies. 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.