Who is Maria Shell?
My artwork is firmly grounded in the craft of quiltmaking. It has taken me many years to acquire the cutting, piecing, and quilting skills I now use daily. Vintage and contemporary commercial solid and print cotton fabrics, as well as hand dyed cotton fabrics I have created are the materials I use in my work. These textiles are cut primarily without rulers and stitched into a two dimensional surface. Once I create this pieced canvas, I spend hours on my long arm quilting machine stitching the top to cotton or wool batting and a fabric backing. The final step is to bind or face each individual piece.
I have always been interested in pattern and how complex pattern can also create complex figure ground composition. In 2011, I began to wonder what would happen if I selected a particular pattern–in this case the grid–and continued to play with it over the course of a series. What I discovered is that limiting the pattern but manipulating the line, color, and shape, can produce dynamic results that not only stand alone as compelling individual compositions, but also are intriguing to look at as a group.
Limiting the structure of my work to a grid has allowed me to more fully explore my love of color. How to make color vibrate on the wall? That is the question for me. Most often the answer lies in proportion of line and shape in relation to color. Color is dynamic, fickle, explosive, solemn, mysterious, and beautiful. All colors possess these characteristics, and it is my daily work to explore how color is capable of being all these things for the viewer. It is with real joy that I try and try again to evoke deep emotion in the viewer through the use of color. This work is visceral. I do not know intellectually before hand what is going to happen when I put a sliver of chartreuse next to a bubble gum pink, but I am always willing to take the leap, to stitch until I find out.