In The Gallery: Dresses for Women by Shelbee Matis

  • Thursday, Oct 12, 2017

Madison, Wis. (October 12, 2017) – Edgewood College is pleased to present Dresses for Women by Shelbee Matis, which opens Sunday, October 15 in the Edgewood College Gallery.

Dresses for Women will be Shelbee Matis’s first exhibition in Madison and is the culmination of a lifetime of artistic exploration - expressing the exhilaration of creative expression, delight in the unexpected, and joy that comes from bringing beauty to the world.

  • Exhibition dates: Sunday, October 15 through Sunday November 12, 2017
  • Artist Reception: Sunday, October 15, 2:00-4:00 pm, Edgewood College Gallery

Self-taught artist Shelbee Matis began fabricating her collage series Dresses for Women several years ago, drawing upon her years of designing wearable art for men and women in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Each dress is based on the work of an artist Matis has found inspiring. These artist inspirations cross boundaries of time, geography and cultures, reflecting the many cultural influences she experienced in New Mexico and elsewhere. Her aim, she says, is to “make it theirs, but mine also,” and then to “make it as beautiful as possible.” Utilizing a combination of incandescent and reflective papers pieced into complex and often exuberant patterns, Matis characterizes these elaborate glittering mosaics as marking her move from ‘wearable’ art to ‘unwearable’ art.

Now 89, Shelbee Matis was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and has lived a creative life of visual abundance. From designing doll clothes as a child, to fashioning her own colorful clothing and the “wearable art” that she distributed through her Santa Fe gallery, to carving, painting, and adorning the whimsical sculptural figures that populate her home in Madison, her work is a manifestation of her insatiable and unstoppable drive to create. Throughout her life she has made most of her clothes, often in colorful, richly textured fabrics that reflect her love for the substance of textiles. As she fashioned her life as a mostly self-taught artist, Matis was never bound to one medium and was drawn to sculpting in wood. She constructed a “Recycled Forest” from lumber into life-size trees, moved into fanciful handmade, hand-painted furniture and later to sculptural figures, several of which will be included in Dresses for Women.

Matis created a bas-relief mural for Carl Sandburg Elementary School after moving to Madison. Her artwork has been shown at Santa Fe’s Museum of Art, at galleries in Taos, NM, and most recently at the Monroe Arts Center in Monroe, Wis.