ART - Jean Wells

Coke and Hamburger.

2 feet tall x 0.5 foot diameter and 1.5 feet tall x 1 foot , 2010.

American artist Jean Wells began sculpting in the late 1980's using a beguiling array of materials and objects, large and small. Playful, paradoxical and full of technical finesse, Wells offers not only visual pleasures, but stimulating food for thought with her Pop icons of ice cream, soda and pin up queens.

Fitting neatly into an art historical discourse that revolves around the loaded topic of consumerism, a conversation that includes such twentieth century stalwarts as Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and Jeff Koons, among others, Wells also invokes more rarefied luminaries such as Nikki de Saint Phalle, Wayne Thiebaud and Takashi Murakami. Like many postmodern artists working with a blend of pop culture iconography and autobiography, Wells' work is charming and nostalgic, yet packs a punch with its satisfying bite of underlying poignancy, offering an authentic and personal undercurrent that balances the lyrical. 

Wells is deeply inspired by her sumptuous materials, and works with an exquisite palette of beautifully colored glass that she has custom created for her sculptures. These unique glass creations provide her with an incredibly wide selection of tones, qualities of reflection and color gradations, allowing her to shade forms, variegate and layer colors with great precision and nuance. Wells hand cuts the glass, and keeps a reserve of tiny scrap pieces that allow her to add details and touches of color that keep the surfaces lively and variable. Like many artists, she relies upon her personal history, imagination and even her dream life to arrive at the ideas she will pursue as actual objects.

Raised in the wholesome landscape of the evergreen Pacific Northwest, Wells was born into a large artistic family with a strong traditional skill set grounded in such old world techniques such as fresco secco, realism and mosaics. At an early age the young artist apprenticed with her father, mosaic artist Thomas Wells, and learned the painstaking craft and iconography of classical Byzantine-style mosaics as he completed a large commission for the prestigious and architecturally celebrated St. Demetrios Greek Church in Seattle. Having worked for a number of years in paintings and ceramics, Wells has recently rediscovered her love of mosaics and in keeping with her playful, trickster nature, she prefers to turn the traditional uses of this medium on their head and make sculpture instead of murals.