Working in the medium of painting, drawing, and sculpture, Maggie Wells is an artist of great breadth, immersed in creativity in both art and life. While she currently resides in Greenwich Village, New York, during the 1970s and 1980s she was a member of many significant artistic communities in San Francisco and New York City.
Wells first developed an interest in painting while studying theater with Alvina Krause at Northwestern University in Chicago from 1960-62. She then transferred to the Rhode Island School of Design, where she was enrolled from 1962-65 and received a B.F.A in painting. After graduating, she moved to San Francisco, finding a community of musicians and artists at Project Artaud—an experimental arts space established in 1971—and even worked with a group of artists to found Southern Exposure, a grassroots gallery that displayed the work of Alice Neel, among other pioneering artists of the time. By 1980, Wells returned to the East Coast, living in a loft in Tribeca, New York and mixing with the downtown artistic community, attending openings and parties in nearby Soho and the East Village. She was particularly taken with the Abstract Expressionist movement for its bold use of color and brushwork. By day, Wells worked as a scenic artist, collaborating with the artist Red Grooms, and showing her paintings and drawings in lofts and galleries at night. By the 1990s, Wells began working in ceramics through a serendipitous encounter with works displayed in a ceramics shop window in Greenwich Village. Around 1985, she very quickly began to sell her wares, including functional items like candlesticks as well as abstract sculptures in stores like deVera.
Today, Wells paints and draws, primarily in ink and gouache, in her apartment and makes ceramics at Greenwich House Pottery. Her forms are organic abstractions—limbs, heads, and torsos—emerging without conscious intention. She often works on pieces for days. Hand-building her sculptures, she forms and reforms a shape as it morphs from something arbitrary and complicated to a work that is simple and whole. In her ceramics, Wells does not emphasize technical expertise and keeps surfaces unassuming to make an emotional impact through the power of form.