Ward Shelley

Ward Shelley works as an artist in New York and Connecticut. He is interested in constructed worlds and intersecting narratives; how they create, mediate and inform each other. He wants to know how things really work.

Shelley specializes in large projects that freely mix architecture and performance. For more than a decade, he has been collaborating with Alex Schweder, using experimental architecture to explore the dance between the designed environment and its consequences. Since 2007, the duo have designed, built, and lived in (or on) seven structures, all of them in locations where the public are invited not only to witness, but also to actively engage with the artists in direct dialogue about their practice—an activity that has coalesced into what they call “performance architecture.”

Shelley also works on diagramatic paintings: information-based timelines on culture-related subjects and historical postmortems. He frequently works with Douglas Paulson on installations and environments that attempt to turn mind, text, and meaning inside out (for a better look). They created the “The Last Library” project for Spaces in 2015.

Shelley’s work has been exhibited in more than 10 countries and is in a number of museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum, the Brooklyn Art Museum, and The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. Shelley received a Painting and Sculpture award from the Joan Mitchell foundation, and has been a fellow of the American Academy in Rome since 2006. He has received NYFA and NEA fellowships in sculpture and new media categories, a Bessie Award for installation art, and grants from the Jerome Foundation and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. He is represented by Pierogi Gallery in New York.

A new septuagenarian, this year Ward claims to be taking a year off to re-evaluate the direction of his life and his work. He has re-booted and found time for few extra-curricular activities, particularly around music and reading, and has begun rescuing plants (otherwise known as gardening). Being outside has become a priority.

The book mentioned in the interview was: A Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide to Living by Luc Ferry.

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  1. Thanks you very much Ward Shelley and Brainard Carey for these interesting reflections about the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
    I want to suggest some books written by a Chilean Biologist- Philosopher, who for me is one of the most special thinkers of this time.
    Humberto Maturana
    “El sentido de lo humano”
    “De maquinas a seres humanos”
    “Historia de nuestro vivir cotidiano” and others