I first saw Ward Shelley‘s work during Art Basel 2009 at a show in Wynwood, hung salon-style and belonging to one of my favorite Williamsburg galleries, Pierogi. It was an amazing show (also introduced me to the dream-like paintings of Ryan Mrozowski), and I fell in love with Shelley’s visual maps of everything from the history of the downtown scene to the history of science fiction to the history of Shelley’s love life. Though the information doubtless is painstakingly arranged by Shelley, it also predetermines its own shape– the viewer feels as though she is looking directly at the innate shape and structure of a movement, or a life.
Media Role Models, ver. 1, 24″ x 41″
Who Invented the Avant Garde, ver. 3, 62.5″ x 28.5″.
Autobiography, ver. 2, 36″ x 23″
To see these images enlarged, visit www.wardshelley.com.
Many of these charts– since they deal with organic developments over time– take the form of organs, trees, or other biological structures. It’s not hard to see how this format could translate to a ketubah, as the charting of two lives before and after they intersect (it could go several generations back), or as a chart of the relationship itself, as the history of a favorite genre of music that the couple shares as an interest, or even as “the history of love” through different art forms. What about Jewish history, with the couple’s meeting as the outcome of generations of wanderings? The text of the ketubah could be added on the side, or across the bottom, I suppose. That would be for Ward Shelley to decide.