Shirley Pu Wills was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1951 in post-war Japan, of Chinese heritage. When Shirley was four, her parents saw in her a talent for art and hired a Sumi-e teacher privately at home. In 1958, at the age of seven, her family moved to Queens, New York. In 1974, Shirley graduated with a B.F.A. from Pratt Institute with a major in Painting and a minor in Art Education. After college, she was hired by Liberty House in Honolulu. There, while working in Hawaii, Shirley rediscovered her Chinese heritage and culture through the University of Hawaii, while studying under the late Master Lam Oi Char.
Shirley subsequently returned to live with her family in New Jersey, where she spent the next four decades. During that time, she studied Chinese brush painting for ten years from various Chinese masters in New York City. After that, she enjoyed a successful and highly recognized art career in New York. She was one of the founders of the Asian American Woman's Artist's alliance, and her work was represented in Manhattan by the prestigious Phoenix Gallery and Ceries Gallery.
Shirley has won numerous awards, and is President Emeritus of the Sumi-e Society, and founder of the New Jersey chapter. She has been teaching Chinese brush painting for 17 years, beginning with the Montclair Art Museum, and later the China Institute of America in New York, Drew University, and the State University of New York.
Shirley has made her home in Captain Cook, on the Big Island of Hawaii since 2003. Since returning to Hawaii, she has had one woman shows at the East Hawaii Cultural Center in Hilo, and the Parker Ranch Museum's Pu'uopelu Gallery, and had work accepted in juried shows throughout the Big Island. Shirley is represented by a number of top galleries on the Big Island. You will find a complete listing of those galleries, with links to their websites on this site's GALLERIES PAGE.