The newest exhibition in New York Folklore’s gallery is the pictorial wood carvings of Mary Michael Shelley of Ithaca, which opened on October 4, 2019 and will be on view until mid-January, 2020. In the Fall-Winter 2009 Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore, Mary Michael Shelley offered a biographical sketch. The following is an excerpt from “Carving Out a Life: Reflections of an Ithaca Wood-Carver.”

“I started carving at age twenty-two, when my father gave me a gift of a painted wood-carving he had made of me at the farm where I grew up. This gift from my father inspired me to begin to make my own carved and painted pictures…I think of my pictures as a visual diary that helps me make sense of the events and feelings in my life…

 

Although I’ve done many pictures of diners, sailing, and dream images, the barn is a favorite subject that fills me with the pleasure of visiting an old friend. My barn pictures carry layers of meanings, like Russian nesting dolls. It’s thinking about these layers that keeps me going through long and solitary hours of carving in my studio …

 

So it seems that, in the end, my barn pictures are about me and making sense of the events of my life. I am the cows, the farmers, and the barn – and the skies are my moods.”

To read more from Mary Michael Shelley, you can access this and other Voices articles by becoming a member of New York Folklore. You can also follow Mary Michael Shelley on Facebook and Instagram.