Art of the Everyday by Mary Michael Shelley

Take a peek into the everyday world of Ithaca artist Mary Michael Shelley

Opens:  July 15, 2023

Anything can be art – from stoic cows to everyday office life. That’s what Ithaca artist Mary Michael Shelley aims to incorporate in her work – the small moments that make up a lifetime. Shelley works with wood and acrylic paint, carving and painting scenes from the snapshots in her head.
“Art of the Everyday” includes work from Shelley’s collection too personal to sell. Included in the collection is a word carving painting made for Shelley by her father, kick starting her artistic passion. Shelley grew up wanting to become a writer, and now she pours her heart and soul into these pieces, using art to act as her words.
Shelley calls this collection her “visual diary.”
Come celebrate Shelley’s 50th year of making her art with us!


Mary Shelley Artist Statement:

The works in this show represent the evolution of my carved and painted picture stories from 1973 until present. All work was carved on white pine and painted with acrylics. Over the years I have made many pictures of a personal nature which I never tried to sell – pictures of my travels and personal life events  more to me than to anyone who would want to purchase them. Other
pictures were made in times of struggle or joy in which I encouraged myself in visual metaphors on how to live my life. Whenever I could I saved a diner or upstate New York scene. And so one by one artwork accumulated on the walls of my house and studio/shop. I grew up on a farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania in an area rich in tradition,antiques, history and craft. Inspired by this, I can think of nothing better than to have spent my life making quality hand wrought objects that will survive, tell
stories, and bring pleasure long after my lifetime. I went to Cornell wanting to be a writer but soon after graduation my father sent me a carved and painted picture he had made, of me with my horse and dog at the farm where I grew up. The next day I began a carved picture of my own and the rest is history. Over time I gave up writing to become a visual artist, but the
desire to tell a story remained. Sometimes it’s hard to do just one thing well. But that’s what I’ve tried to do. With each new picture I improved my drawing, painting and carving skills as I
documented my life in wood and paint.  Together the selection of art in this exhibit tells a story, the visual diary of my
life’s doings and feelings over the 50 years of my carving and painting life. To bring this show to you I have had to empty the walls of my house.



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Support provided by the general operations support grants from the United Cultural Fund, a program of the Broome County Arts Council; the Conrad and Virginia Klee Foundation; the Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums Program, administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreational, and Historical Preservation; and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.