Mary Shelly Local Notable Ithaca Artist


About Mary Shelley

My folk art americana art work is entirely carved in white pine and then painted with acrylics. Each piece is a unique original. I am untaught and untrained as a visual artist. I learned a number of useful skills during my work in the trades as a signpainter and carpenter. I was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania in 1950. I have  lived in Ithaca, New York ever since I graduated from Cornell ’72 with a major in creative writing. While at Cornell, I wanted to be a writer. 

Contact me at My Studio…
Mary Michael Shelley
109 Park Place
Ithaca, NY 14850
607 272 5700 phone
607-273-2312 fax

One year after graduating my father gave me a painted wood carving he had made of me at the farm where I grew up (my father’s work). I soon tried my hand at visual artwork as well, and soon had stopped writing and was only doing visual art. I am commonly referred to as a folk artist, although I feel most comfortable with the term “self-taught”.  Americana, naive, whimsical and primative have also been used to describe my three dimensional carved and painted pictures. I don’t fit into “outsider”, but I do definately think of my work as visionary, especially my dream series work. I am also very much a “crafts” person. My goal is to create a quality crafted piece of art that will survive long past my lifetime.

My woodcarved and painted pictures are entirely carved on rough cut white pine boards that are air-dried in the crawl space beneath the front porch to my house. I start with a rough cut board and carve down to create shapes. I use no glued on pieces. A sliding batten is fastened on the back of the carving to prevent warping or cupping. Most of my pieces are carved on four quarter (1” thick) stock. I then paint the carving with acrylics, sealing it front and back (again to prevent warping) with an acrylic varnish. An inner gold-leafed frame completes the look of each piece. Some of my most recent pieces include copper sheeting and buttons.