Ingrid V. Wells

Contemporary Feminist Painter

Ingrid V. Wells (b. Rockville, MD, 1987) earned her MFA from San Francisco Art Institute and her BFA from Arizona State University. Her work fancies the fantastic and humorous in theme and the charming, the kitschy, and the celebrity in subject. Wells's paintings investigate the world of gendered consumerism and the ethics of fascination. Her work has been shown in the Bay Area, New York, Miami and internationally in Japan, South Korea and Israel. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Daily Mail, BUST Magazine, El País, Create! Magazine and Teen Vogue, among others. Wells is a professional development grant recipient from the Center for Cultural Innovation. She manages San Francisco Artists Studios, enjoys teaching advanced painting courses with SFAI's Public Education program and runs TWIRL: A Decade of Artists Interviews. Wells currently lives and works in San Francisco.

Girlhood in American Pop Culture

In Wells's work, compact compositions of sweet and kitschy objects are suspended in luscious backgrounds. In “Put on a Happy Face,” a Hello Kitty figurine stares blankly onto viewers amongst a frenzy of decadent cupcakes and diamonds. Eerily enlarged, these charming items possess a familiar yet bizarre quality. Reminiscent of an oversaturated toy aisle, these works accentuate the social influence and ideologies of femininity instilled upon youth at a young age. Bows are perfectly tied. Hearts have the right sheen. Innocent in approach, these personified desserts and theatrical playthings promise the comfort of conformity. Heavy on the humor, Wells's oil paintings are a fantastical presentation of an ideal adolescence waiting to be disrupted.

“I enjoy making visually entertaining paintings that reflect the feminine spectacle. My work begins with a still life reference, composed of tiny, plastic objects, undulating in fake frosting and sparkles. I manipulate and enlarge the imagery into bright, bold oil paintings. Conceptually I’m investigating the complex nature of girlhood in America, where young women simultaneously ingest messages of oppression and empowerment. My paintings engage with the aesthetics of joy as laid out by Ingrid Fetell Lee. Lee describes expressions of joy as a form of resistance, a theory that resonates with me.”—Ingrid V. Wells

View install images and event photographs from Ingrid V. Wells's solo exhibition "Sweet Fascination" at Voss Gallery (May 20 - June 20, 2020).