Fox Chapel Area teacher earns top grade for artwork
Jody Shell protected herself from childhood pain with forays into painting, drawing and other creative outlets.
“I could create a safe world for myself,” said the Fox Chapel Area High School teacher, who parlayed her elementary talents into a career as an artist.
Not long ago, Shell unearthed some of her early works and put a fresh spin on them. She photocopied paper dolls, painted them and attached them to a canvas she co-created with longtime friend Karen Larson.
The mixed-media piece, “Paper Armor,” received a Juror's Award as part of the Pittsburgh Society of Artists' show, “Scapes.”
Shell and Larson's creation was among 155 pieces submitted to the exhibit by 85 artists.
Winners were selected by juror Petra Fallaux, the creative director of Springboard Design and the former director of Carnegie Mellon University's Art Galleries.
The pair were honored at an opening reception in September at the Panza Gallery in Millvale, where the piece will be displayed through Saturday.
Friends for two decades, Shell and Larson met when they worked at the Carnegie Museum of Art's Children Museum and quickly bonded over childhood dramas they endured.
The artists would discuss the adult issues that plagued their young lives and how they escaped with artwork, said Shell, a district teacher for 17 years.
In “Paper Armor,” the pair depict two women holding dresses covered with the pictures that shielded them “from the adult things happening in their lives.”
“We're trying to show the safe world that protected us,” Shell said.
Each woman completed one side of the project but the collaborative effort appears seamless.
“Maybe because we shared many of the same issues,” Shell said. “We didn't want it to look like it had a starting point and a finish, and I think it worked.”
Shell, a graduate of Edinboro University and Carlow College, said she enters exhibits and sells her artwork only sporadically, mostly as memories of her childhood make their way back to her.
“They come back in snippets,” she said, citing two recent pieces that focus on memories of her grandmother. Those two are now showing at the Fein Gallery on the North Side.
Returning to the art circuit has improved her teaching skills, Shell believes. She laughed at her frustration over composing an artist's statement for her most recent exhibit.
“That's what we tell them to do; start with an idea and come up with a statement,” she said. “And here I was, having to do just that. It puts me in their shoes and I feel more involved with what they're doing.”
The Panza Gallery is at 115 Sedgwick Street, Millvale. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Upgrades in store for Fox Chapel Area students
- Work continues on Lauri Ann West Community Center in O’Hara, fall opening eyed
- Aspinwall Catholic school enrollment grows; technology advances
- ‘I Heart Blawnox’ ministry aimed to rally community
- More bridge work detours Indiana Twp. drivers
- Reading with a buddy a joy for O’hara woman