In her art, Madelaine Shellaby has extensively imagined the interconnectedness of animate and so-called inanimate matter. She has found parallel points of view on the subject in superstition, myth, modern science, religion, and idle chatter. Stories from these sources inform her work, and in multiple ways are woven throughout STONESSTORIESD:theARCHIVE, which is the collection she created to encompass everything she does. Shellaby's collecting began years ago with an interest in stories about a belief and references to the transformative powers of stones. STONESTORIES:theARCHIVE has evolved into a museum where narrative brings together art, artifact and artifice.

On display in a recent exhibition entitled FABLESTONES, was a ceramic bust of an illustrious donor to the archive; the recently found photographs from the life of an ex-slave who rode the underground railroad; drawings from the jizo stone garden at Goat-In-the-Road, California; artist books illustrating the stone stories; Archive published prints of colorfully vivid memento mori; malevolent stones; scholar stones; stories from history and anecdote.



Notes on the curator of the Fablestones exhibition, Marina Mayan Steinhart

Marina Mayan Steinhart began collecting the stones and then the stories. They – the stones and the stories - sought her out, in fact. She found a calling in putting them in order, and offering them as a new category of information, and of literature.

She studied Chinese culture and language for many years, and had become acquainted in particular with the spirit stones of the Song Dynasty. She purchased one in Beijing for its peculiarity, and over time came to appreciate it in the way that the earlier connoisseurs had done. That was the beginning of her collection.

Steinhart was invited to curate an exhibition of the STONESSTORIES:theArchive because of her intensive work with the Eastern tradition of stone connoisseurship, and for her close association with Charles Rokeby Rokham, one of the archive’s primary donors. She has organized the stories and stones in the Archive with contextual materials for the first time.

She has acquired on loan from the Quijonghu Museum the stone known as the Forest Shadow Rock for this exhibition, has included selections from her own collection, and has worked with the family of Charles Rokham to faithfully represent his thought here in New York exhibition.

The Archive is proud to have had her at its helm for this past year for the planning of this, its third exhibition.                                                                                                    -January, 2009

Shellaby at the SOHO20 Gallery opening of Fablestones  2009 NYC

Charles Rokeby Rokham,


Sand from Everywhere,

digital print