- About Shel -
My dad Jerry Wagner was the original recycler. He once carried a fallen pecan limb into our garage and out came a clothes hamper. He wrestled a heap of old windows into kitchen cabinets. And under his spell, my grandpa’s old bowling trophies became a clever hat-rack.
On Saturday mornings, we’d “trade up” at the county dump: a truck-bed of crumbling shingles for a tangle of aluminum lawn chairs, that “merely needed new webbing.” We hauled in a deceased honeysuckle vine, and muscled out a charcoal grill, that breathed new life after a squirt of Rustoleum. We gasped over the items others tossed out, our hearts racing at our good fortune. For my dad, life was a scrappy treasure hunt and I paid attention.
Little did I realize at the time, but in the midst of those carefree, imaginative jaunts...the seeds for my brand of work: packrat art, were being planted. After all, if there is still a smidge of potential left in an old oven door, it serves to reason that everything, down to the smallest tidbits, hold some degree of magic.
That’s how I came to “paint” with a mishmash of collectanea...a colorful goulash of found items, all forgotten, some forlorn, that together are so much bolder than the sum of their parts. Additional elements are sculpted from natural clay and papier-mache’, and painted with acrylics (or sometimes nail-polish!)
I feel especially called to create portraits of quirky folks from my imagination, that are being boldy and uniquely themselves, which exposes my passion for inclusivity.
My pieces are a commentary on the residuals of a modern life; a spotlight on the sheer accumulation of odds and ends cast-off by everyday living.
As an assemblage artist, I am the collector of these fragments...the keeper and organizer of countless remnants. And like my father before me, passionate about stirring this stew of miscellany into art that questions the pecking order, as well as the intrinsic value, of the things we throw away.