By Angela Romeo

Hidden talents – unexpected surprises, these are things that give life flavor. For many the name Sela Ward evokes an actor. We are familiar with her work from films such as Gone Girl and TV, Sisters and House and CSI-NY come to mind.  Many are aware of her charitable work with Hope Village for Children. But Melissa Morgan Fine Art will introduce Sela Ward, artist.

Sela attended the University of Alabama where she studied fine art and advertising. While working in advertising in New York she was recruited by the Wilhelmina Modeling Agency. From there Sela Ward’s acting career took root. But her passion for her art never diminished. In between acting roles, Sela would paint.

“Painting is personal expression of my inner life. The expression of visual art is a different structure than acting. It is a more vulnerable, personal dialogue,” noted Sela. “With the chaos of the outer world, we all strive to find inner stillness. We move forward in our daily activities, trying to make sense of world events and even the simple task of our daily routine. But at some point we do seek an inner stillness. Painting allows me to find that stillness and many of the works in this show are all about that pursuit.”


Sela paints in large scale. “I prefer the larger scale. It is not uncommon for me to create work that is 76 inches by 90 inches. I installed a piece here in the desert that is 10 feet by 8 feet. It was the piece that Melissa Morgan saw. She offered to show my art at her gallery. I saw the invitation as a great way to publically show my work.”

On April 1, from 6 pm to 8 pm Melissa Morgan Fine Art will host a reception for Sela and exhibit Sela’s abstract works on paper.

“I have done landscapes and figurative work. I am now exploring abstractions. It is the difficulty of execution to create a seemingly simple image that I find a challenge. I approach the canvas with an idea. But, just like life, a great plan is often taken by surprise.  The work can unexpectedly take a different direction. Or the work can create its own turmoil.”

“I will have thirteen pieces at MMFA. They include a three piece series entitled Zen Moments.  These are elegant, purposeful washes of color with a bold serpentine stroke of Black China ink. The pieces represent three different states of mind:  Passion, joy and deep calm.  The black line is a full character in search of stillness while itself in constant motion representative of rebirth and redemption; the quest for inner stillness while we are still in motion.  The finished works have an illusion of simplicity. For me to capture the balance and depth of color in these three works, required me to create 25 other discarded pieces. Again simplicity in abstraction is the illusion. The more I explore this field the more respect I have for artists such as Rothko and Pollock.”

Presenting one’s artwork as an actor is an experience that is fraught with issues. “Many people will view an artist’s work with a pure perspective. They may know little about the artist and less about the artist’s life. Their view is not attached to any preconception.  Nothing clouds the viewing experience. For me, for any artist who has a public persona outside the fine art world, the viewer’s experience can be tainted. I am known as an actor.  Will they see Teddy Reed (her character from Sisters)? Will they see Lily Manning (her character from Once and Again)? I cannot erase that knowledge, I can only hope that the viewer can look beyond the actor box, and experience my work for what it is objectively.”

“I have been blessed to have had both the visual and performing arts in my life.  I am happy to be in a place in my life that gives me the freedom to explore and grow as a visual artist. I continue to act but not with the pressure of a weekly one-hour TV drama. My children are attending college. The visual arts are a diverse fresh world of endless possibilities for me. My inner self finds peace and truth though my art.”

Sela Ward has always been true to herself. In 2000, she produced The Changing Face of Beauty, a documentary about aging in America. Unabashed and unbowed, Sela took on the images of beauty as seen through the eyes of Hollywood and advertising. It is the same conviction and quest for truth that makes Sela Ward’s art compelling.

Sela Ward reception on April 1, from 6 pm to 8 pm at Melissa Morgan Fine Art, 73040 El Paseo, Palm Desert, CA 92260.

  • Sela Ward Personal Photos for Facebook Photo: CLIFF LIPSON/CBS ©2011 CBS BROADCASTING INC. All Rights Reserved.