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About Nancy

Baltimore City - Station North A&E District

Nancy Linden creates figurative work in a variety of media, primarily oil and charcoal, largely based on photographs taken during the ’30’s and ’40’s by the brilliant photographers of the Farm Security Administration.  She also works with assemblage and site-specific installation, creating environments which spill into the realm of theater to include set design and the devising and writing of theater pieces, which in turn relates to her poetry and the essays that often accompany her art... more

bluesmen and other ghosts

The paintings are oil and charcoal and collage on canvas or masonite. The subjects are displaced persons, time travelers, ghosts: most of them from the 30?s and 40?s, people sidelined on farms or city streets, as represented in Farm Security Administration photographs. Apart from me, outside the flow of daily life, strong and bleak and solitary, they wake me with the rawness of their lives. The process is excavation: trying shapes and colors and removing them again, digging for bone with paint and charcoal until, as my eyes become accustomed to a different light, I begin to recognize the depths and artifacts of a certain room, a landscape, the structure of a morning, the sharp solitude of twilight; to see the colors and shadows of a world I cannot enter.

(In much the same spirit I peer sideways into lighted windows as I pass at night.)

  • Rooms by the Week

    48" x 42", charcoal, oil paint, gesso and collage on masonite. Based on an FSA photograph. I have used that same seated man in other work; here he can be seen under the same title in the project “prints”. (This piece was one of three paintings rented to Runaway Bride; it can be seen, out of focus, throughout a scene in the newspaper office; it comes into focus for one split second: pow: and it’s gone.)
  • Sunday Afternoon

    This is 54" x 42", oil and charcoal on canvas. The figures are based on two Farm Security Administration photographs. I began this piece when the new Washington Convention Center expressed an interest in my work; it was to be the central panel of a triptych. The work did not go well; I was preoccupied with the need to please the people in DC. Finally, in despair, I sent them a photograph of the piece in progress; they said no, that’s not what we had in mind; I relaxed and concentrated on the work itself and created what became one of my favorite paintings.
  • Outside the Juke-Joint

    54” x 24”, charcoal, oil bar and oil crayon on tarpaper, mounted on wood. This man was a member of a small brass band made up of farmers and sharecroppers in Hale County, Alabama. The brass band tradition, at one time very prominent in Hale and the neighboring counties, began among ex-slaves and contributed to the development of jazz. (Credit: Frederic Ramsey.
  • Plainswoman

    24” x 28”, oil and oil stick on canvas. This painting is based on a 1938 Dorothea Lange photograph of an Oklahoma woman, Nettie Featherston, a migrant laborer’s wife and mother of three sons. “This county’s a hard county. They won’t help bury you here. If you die, you’re dead, that’s all.”
  • A Well-Spent Life

    40” x 30”, oil on canvas with sand. This piece was based on a photograph of the Texas bluesman Mance Lipscomb. He took the name “Mance” from “Emancipation”; his father had once been a slave.
  • Mother Nat

    40” x 33-1/2”, oil, charcoal and paper collage on wood. She was based on an FSA photograph of a country housewife.
  • Beale Street

    61” x 83”, oil and charcoal on canvas with wood. This was the first large assemblage I made. It was an instinctual process: I played with materials until it seemed that the piece had assumed its necessary shape. The two central men were based on photographs of the Delta bluesmen Mississippi John Hurt and Son House. I have relocated them in Memphis, where Beale Street was a historic center for the blues.
  • All the voices you have heard at all the kitchen tables

    59” x 66”, charcoal, pastel, oil, on canvas with wood. This mixed-media piece is based on two Farm Security Administration photographs of elderly women and a poem.
  • Home Place

    This piece is approximately 92” x 42”, done in oil stick and paper collage on roofing tarpaper. The lady is based on a photograph by Eudora Welty, whose photographs were as beautiful as her stories.
  • Handful of Gimme, Mouthful of Much Obliged

    This is 48” x 38”, charcoal, pastel, newspaper and roofing tar on masonite. It is based on a photograph of Sleepy John Estes, a Tennessee blues guitarist who wrote such songs as “Drop Down Mama”, “Railroad Police Blues”, and “Rats in My Kitchen”. (He did not write “Handful of Gimme, Mouthful of Much Obliged”; Fred Neil wrote that in the ‘60’s.) Sleepy John’s epitaph, ".. ain't goin' to worry Poor John's mind anymore", was a line from his song “Someday Baby Blues”.

black and white work

These are large charcoal drawings, for the most part, roughly life-size. Many incorporate tarpaper, newsprint, canvas or other media/materials. Some are made directly from a model, some based on a photograph or multiple photographs.

  • Jimi

    A few years ago I spoke with Woody Curry, director of The Baltimore Station, about the possibility of making drawings of the residents there. I wrongly assumed that it was a homeless shelter; Woody explained that it was a residence program for treating substance abuse, approaching treatment not only from the physical aspect but also the mental and spiritual. I don’t remember our discussion, but by the time I left his office I had volunteered to provide an art program for the men.
  • timeline

    This was the title piece in an installation several years ago in which I attempted to conflate time, line and memory. The installation consisted of large charcoal drawings interconnected throughout the gallery with wire, tubing, rope, rebar and drawn line. A few other images from the installation can be seen here in the project "installations", and one of the solar etchings in “prints” was made from a photograph of this piece. “Timeline” was later reworked for the "Black Male Identity Project: Incarceration"; that version is the one included here.
  • Emmanuel

    Emmanuel was a gentle homeless man and a visionary artist who created astonishing intricately detailed architectural drawings of a world that operates somewhere outside the limitations of the usual three dimensions. We met at an exhibition of a Franciscan Center art class in which he participated; I was struck by his beauty and overcame some reticence to ask him to pose for me.
  • Observer

    This piece, approximately 42” x 32”, is done in charcoal on paper and oil bar on tarpaper, mounted on wood. I used white oil bar; the golden hue is the contribution of the tarpaper, as its own oils rose into the paint. The man began with a photograph but soon devolved into my imagination.
  • Mountain Man

    This drawing, approximately 7' high, was done from a model at a time when I was first becoming interested in prison images.
  • Street Scene

    These gentlemen were part of a street scene photographed by Gordon Parks in the 1940's. They altered as I worked and sought to understand their world. The fellow on the right developed a resemblance to Parks himself. The piece is approximately 40" x 32", charcoal and pastel and gesso, collaged with newspaper.
  • where the Southern cross the Dog

    These gentlemen recur in my work with some frequency. They are based on two photographs from the Farm Security Administration. During the 1930’s and ‘40’s the FSA sent photographers the caliber of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Russell Lee across the country to document rural poverty, resulting in an enormous stockpile of brilliant photographs which are in the public domain; much of my work is based on these images.
  • Been Born Quite a While

    This drawing was based on a photograph of a farmer/musician who played in a brass band in Hale County Alabama. The title is taken from the book "Been Here and Gone" by Frederic Ramsey; he quoted Stormy Williams, trombonist in a small country band: "I've been born quite a while, but I'm here yet."
  • End of Day

    This drawing is 34" x 29", done in charcoal and pastel on handmade paper which I made in my studio by rather primitive methods and combined with cheesecloth. It's great rough textural stuff and hell to draw on. A wonderful local model posed for it, a sweet elderly man who dressed in green-and-yellow plaid and fancied himself a borscht-belt comedian; he was fond of saying "remember, this is a nose, not a banana."
  • Monday Mornin' Blues

    This drawing is 102” x 143”, done in charcoal and collage on separate sheets of paper which were suspended using steel rods and C-clamps. It is based on three photographs taken in Georgia and North Carolina in the 1880's and '90s by J.J. Kirkbride, Carl Weis, and a third unknown photographer. These men were six of the tens of thousands of African American men who were subjected to a new form of slavery: the incarceration and servitude of innocent men that was put into practice after Reconstruction. The chains are real, taken straight from the photographs. The men are real, too.

moving pictures: animated drawings, performances, and post-apocalyptic movies

Once It Was This is a 2-minute animated charcoal drawing, based on a poem and a life-sized charcoal drawing I made a few years ago of my mother and her sisters in 1957. That drawing, and a related essay, can be seen in my "Writing" category. I include here the poem and a still image from the video. They are part of a body of work which deals with fading memory, my mother's Alzheimer's, and a search for an alternative approach to understanding time. Related work can be seen in my "Installations" project.

For several years after college I worked in the theater as designer and electrician and studied acting. This was followed by many years as a sailor and an artist. More recently I returned to the theater, and have been acting fairly extensively in local community and professional theater. I have included here four dramatic monologues from Stonehenge, a semi-annual Baltimore-Washington area audition, and a still from a performance of Coriolanus, in which I saved Rome every night.

The Gunslinger Grifter Logan, directed by Stephen Rubac. It is in post-production, and it is going to be terrific. This is a rough cut and may be difficult to run, but if nothing else CHECK OUT THE SET AND COSTUMES.

  • once it was this

    An animated drawing, based on a 1957 photograph of a family reunion. My mother and her five sisters each sooner or later developed Alzheimer's Disease. As my mother slipped into dementia she became a time traveller, moving freely back and forth through the years of her life: she was again a young woman preparing lessons for her third-grade classes, or spending time with her parents. When we tried to pin her into the present by pointing out that her parents had died some 50 years earlier their loss was a fresh shock, as if we'd said they were struck by a car that morning.
  • once it was this (poem)

    This poem, together with a drawing I had made of my mother and her sisters in 1957, served as the basis for the animated drawing of the same name.
    Microsoft Office document icon once it was this (poem)
  • Moon-Play

    The clowns see the moon and fall silent, awe-struck. They scramble toward it, attempt to grab it, sing moon songs to it; but it’s too far away and it is only light.
    Microsoft Office document icon Moon-Play
  • The Little Foxes: Birdie

    Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes is a beautifully written modern classic. It features two deeply drawn women, mirror opposites. I want to play both of them. This is Birdie, a beautiful spirit defenseless against the manipulations of her merciless family.
  • Summer and Smoke

    This is a monologue from Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke, as performed for Stonehenge film auditions in September 2015. ~ For several years after college I worked in the theater as designer and electrician and studied acting. This was followed by many years away from the theater, working as a sailor and an artist. Seven years ago I returned to the theater, and since then have been acting fairly extensively in community theater and as background in television.
  • August: Osage County

    This is a dramatic monologue spoken by Violet, the matriarch in August: Osage County by Tracy Letts, a play that makes one consider what might have followed if George and Martha HAD had children.
  • Table Manners

    This is Ruth from Table Manners, one of three plays by Alan Ayckbourn known collectively as The Norman Conquests after Norman, a sweet mindless doofus who manages to seduce his wife and each of her sisters.
  • The Little Foxes: Regina

    This is the other great female role in The Little Foxes (see "Birdie", above). Recently the play was performed in New York with two actresses alternating in the roles of Birdie and Regina. Yes! That's what I want to do!
  • Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

    This monologue is from Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, by Ed Graczyk. Mona spent a beautiful night 20 years ago, possibly with James Dean.
  • The Gunslinger Grifter Logan ***PASSWORD: gypsqueen

    WHEN YOU ARE ASKED FOR A PASSWORD, ENTER (in lower case): gypsqueen This is a (very) rough cut from The Gunslinger Grifter Logan by Stephen Rubac, presently in post-production. The world has been largely destroyed. I am the Gypsy Queen, an immortal now under a curse which imprisons me in my laboratory and condemns me to age and die (as slowly as I can; so far it's been over 500 years), but still possessing great wisdom and power.


These prints are solar etchings made from photos of my large charcoal drawings. Some are combined with monotypes, others include hand coloring and/or collage. Many of the original drawings can be seen in the project "black and white".

Solar etching is a process of etching a plate by placing on it a positive image on acetate (directly inked on the acetate or reproduced from a photo), and exposing it to light. With normal exposure, you get a plate with which you can print a precise image of the original. But if you remove the acetate, which was masking the dark areas, and expose the whole plate to a few seconds of light, the darker areas will in effect "fall off", leaving unexpected areas of textured white. I greatly enjoy these times when I no longer completely control a project, and fate takes a hand.

Thank you to Soledad Salome for instructing me in this process and for the use of her studio, to Janet Maher of Loyola and to School 33. (I get by with a little help from my friends.)

  • Timeline: brown ghost

    solar etching, 5" x 7". This is a "ghost image", printed with the ink that remains on the plate after the original printing. It was done from the same plate as #6.
  • where the Southern cross the Dog: brown and black

    solar etching, 5" x 7". This is a dual print from two different plates: the first plate, printed in brown ink, is normal: lights and darks appear as they did in the original drawing. The second plate, printed in black. was altered by additional exposure to light such that the densest dark areas of image were eaten away, leaving white spaces that did not accept the ink; you see through those missing areas to the brown first print. See discussion under the tab "About This Project", and the single print of this same image, #2 in this project.
  • Street Scene

    solar etching 7" x 5", with chine colle, ink, charcoal. The original of this image can also be seen in the project "black and white work".
  • timeline, handmade paper

    solar etching on rough handmade paper, 10" x 10". This is from a photograph of the row of men's heads, as seen in the project "black and white work". The same plate was used for #10 in this project.
  • Diptych: Street Scene and Rooms by the Week

    solar etching, 7" x 10". Two separate plates were combined to make this image; see images #3 and #8 in this series for a view of those plates printed on their own.
  • where the Southern cross the Dog, double image

    monoprint, 23" x 12", incorporating the two plates I made of "where the Southern cross the Dog". See #2 and #9 in this project.
  • Rooms by the Week, handmade paper

    solar etching printed on rough hand-made paper, 8" x 5". This is from a photograph of a large drawing I made using the same Farm Security Administration image as the painting in the project "bluesmen and other ghosts"
  • Dark Passage.jpg

    Dark Passage is a monoprint made in combination with a solar etching plate.
  • where the Southern cross the Dog

    solar etching, 5" x 7". This plate was altered such that some of the deeper blacks in the original image disappeared. Please see the Overview under the tab "About This Project" for a discussion of the process. ~ This image recurs here, in different incarnations, in the projects "black and white work" and "installations".
  • Summer Dresses, with Diary

    solar etching 7 x 5, with chine colle. This print evolved from a photograph of the drawing of my mother and her sisters which can be seen in the project "installations" under the title "Timeline". I used these women again in the animated film in the "moving pictures" project. The chine colle is a xerox of a page from my mother's diary, in which she writes that she and my father have agreed to have a baby.

small figures: bluesmen, farmers, ghosts

These are small pieces, little assemblages which combine charcoal or wire drawings of blusemen and farmers with found objects and materials such as wood, plaster, wire, wax,.paint, whatever else is around. Some of them verge on the sculptural; I think of them as 2-1/2 dimensional. There's a joyous physicality playing with the rough materials. These pieces express that pleasure totally.

  • Dust Bowl Refugees

    25" x 27", photo transfer, oil paint and paper on masonite with wood. This was an early working of the Dorothea Lange photograph on which I based Six Tenant Farmers (see "Dust Bowl Refugees" in the projects "installations" and "written word"). Two other of the farmers can be seen here in "Tenant Farmers (sunbleached)", #8.
  • Sunday Morning

    12” x 12”, photo transfer, oil and newspaper on masonite. These are the same men as the two in Street Scene, the 6th piece here; I found them in a Walker Evans photograph. In this case they were transferred from a xerox with wintergreen oil.
  • Tenant Farmers (sunbleached)

    12" x 12", plaster, beeswax, paint and charcoal on wood. These figures were taken from the Dorothea Lange photograph from which I made the installation "Six Tenant Farmers", seen here in my "written word" project. The 10th piece in this series, "Dust Bowl Refugees", was made from two other farmers from the photograph.
  • Hell Hound on My Tail

    26" x 21", charcoal, oil bar and newspaper on tarpaper. The tarpaper takes part in the creation of a drawing: you make a mark with an oil medium, turn your back for a few hours, and the tarpaper responds by altering the color of your mark. I consider working with tarpaper to be a collaboration.
  • Street Scene

    12” x 12”, xerox, encaustic, oil and newspaper on masonite. These are the same two men who were applied as a phototransfer in the piece Sunday Morning, #9 here.
  • Landscape (lone figure)

    15" x 15 1/2", hydrocal plaster, wood, charcoal, beeswax and paint, with wood.
  • Standing Man

    15" x 16 1/2", metal, paper, tarpaper and charcoal on wood, with wood
  • Pozos de Mineral (a street)

    Pozos de Mineral is a little white plaster village in central Mexico where I spent two magical days a few years ago. The power went out in the village one night; I sat in the square with the townspeople, who had brought candlelanterns and barbeques, and later walked home by starlight through streets empty of cars; the year could as easily have been 1940, or 1920, or 1820 ~~ This piece is 16" x 28", metal, wood, plaster, cloth and paint.
  • Night Life

    12" x 13", charcoal, oil crayon, paper, glass and plastic on wood
  • Landscape (steel)

    These small figures are farmers, bluesmen and ramblers. They are based on Farm Security Administration photos from the 1930's and '40's; some are photo transfers and some are drawings, or both. This piece is 15" x 17", metal, wire, wood, charcoal, beeswax and housepaint.


I worked for many years in the theater, primarily as a set designer. It was tremendously exciting to create a piece of art which one could walk into, immerse onesself in an environment, imagine oneself in some different time and place. I still prefer to incorporate my paintings and drawings as elements of an environment, rather than to hang them individually on clean white walls. The installation "where the Southern cross the Dog" (the capitalization is deliberate; it's a line from an old blues song W.C. Handy overheard while waiting for a train) incorporated various materials and detritus which would have been part of the lives of the farmers and Delta bluesmen in my paintings. An old radio in the corner played country blues. The installation "timeline" explored expressions of time and line both in the drawings I made (mummies, trees, figures from long ago) and in the materials—wire, rope, rebar—which filled the room and passed through the air from drawing to drawing. Other of these installations were more purely abstract; one, "From Reverence to Exultation", was an actual set design for a jazz performance.

  • From Reverence to Exultation

    From Reverence to Exultation was an exhibition at the Creative Alliance in which a group of artists made work in response to John Coltrane's A Love Supreme. My part was to design, build and light a stage set for a performance by The Onus of compositions by Coltrane and Darryl Harper. I had designed sets for theater but never for a concert, so Darryl and I conferred extensively; I learned about their spatial needs, especially the square footage I must provide the drummer so that he not topple backward off his platform.
  • Displaced Realities: The Space Between

    Nine artists took over both floors of Maryland Art Place’s original Saratoga Street gallery for two months some years ago to create a collaborative installation. We had met weekly throughout the previous summer to discuss ideas, look at one another’s work and establish parameters: we would explore unaccustomed media, interrelate our work with at least one piece of direct collaboration, and permit the others to alter our work as they might choose.
  • Charts for a TimeTraveler

    This work was installed for Artscape. A row of 7’ x 3’ x 3’ boxes (referred to as “telephone booths”) was arrayed down Mount Royal as viewing stations. I used roots and branches, wire, glass, paper and silver leaf to draw line through space, extending it on into infinity by means of broken mirror at the top and bottom. I considered that I was mapping some arcane and crazed route, perhaps into an alternate universe.
  • So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, detail

    The area shown is approximately 48” x 60” x 24”deep, using wire, tubing, metal, bicycle parts, found objects, paper, charcoal and mirror. I made it for The Bike Project at HCC in collaboration with Breon Gilleran, a metal sculptor, who could build the structure for any fantasy. We began by playing with wheels and gears, and found distant galaxies and the harmony of the spheres.
  • Dust Bowl Refugees

    The piece as installed is 96” x 180”; it is charcoal, pastel, gesso, oil bar, plaster, and paper collage on wood, canvas and tarpaper on the five separate panels, each panel utilizing different mediums. It is based on Dorothea Lange’s photograph of six tenant farmers who have been evicted from their land in Hardeman County, Texas, in 1937. In installation this piece was centered on one wall of the gallery; the remainder of that wall and the other three walls were left empty except for a charcoal horizon which was drawn on the wall between the men and continued around the entire room.
  • Summer Dresses

    This is an installation detail of "Timeline", showing the piece "Summer Dresses", a large (about 72” x 72”) charcoal drawing of my mother and four of her sisters, done from a photograph taken at a family reunion in 1957. The drawing felt too immediate, the women too easily accessed; I wanted to hold the viewer at a distance, to partially obscure the image of the women as memory fades with time. I built a structure to stand between the drawing and the viewer, using glass, wire, silver leaf, a poem and a drawing of my mother in old age.
  • Timeline: installation view

    My installation Timeline was concerned with time, line and memory: years overlapping, line drawn in four dimensions with no beginning or end but which only enters and departs the picture. It was about drawing and being drawn, reaching like roots through soil seeking the bones of the earth.
  • Outside the Juke-Joint

    This is another view of "where the Southern cross the Dog". I incorporated an old ladder in the installation, and considered that the radiator and steam pipes were part of it, too. The neighbors of the South Baltimore gallery where I installed the work were worried about me; they would peek in, see the ladder and an old can of paint which I also fancied, and say “oh dear, you still haven’t finished it!”
  • where the Southern cross the Dog

    “I’m goin’ where the Southern cross the Dog” is a line from an old lost railroad blues song W.C.Handy overheard while waiting for a train in a deserted station in Tutweiler Mississippi, near where the Yazoo Delta Railway, known locally as the Yellow Dog, crossed the Southern. That’s where this work is set. This piece was the heart of an installation in which I combined assemblage with figurative paintings based on Farm Security Administration photos from the 1930’s and ‘40’s.
  • Sweet as the Showers of Rain

    This is a corner view of the installation “where the Southern cross the Dog”, incorporating a charcoal drawing with architectural elements, collage drawings and newspaper.

written word: essays, poems, wanderings

Sometimes a visual image doesn't seem sufficient, and I approach the work again through text or, in one case, an animated video (which can be seen in the project "moving pictures". The two expressions can stand independently, but taken together they serve to enrich one another. At other times an essay may help pull together an installation or exhibition of paintings, providing insight to the viewer or, perhaps more significantly, to myself.

The Venice photograph was selected, from the hundreds I took, to represent a poem.

  • Summer Dresses

    ...moving freely back and forth through the 94 years of her life…Her shifting reality was so vibrant that I came to doubt my own, and to think, who am I to say she's wrong?
    Microsoft Office document icon Summer Dresses
  • Summer Dresses (drawing)

    This is a life-sized charcoal drawing from a photograph of my mother and four of her five sisters, taken at a family reunion in Kansas in 1957. The essay "Summer Dresses" was written to accompany it. I later made an animated charcoal drawing based on this drawing and on my poem "Once It Was This", which can be found, with that animation, in the "moving pictures" project. The drawing also appears in the project "installations" with the title "Timeline: detail", and in the project "prints".
  • Dust Bowl Refugees

    The men are ghosts. The men are long gone, moved on or died. The land is still there and it’s still dry wornout flatland.
    Microsoft Office document icon Dust Bowl Refugees
  • Six Tenant Farmers

    This mixed-media drawing was based on Dorothea Lange's photograph of six tenant farmers evicted from their land. The following image is an essay which was written to accompany it. I discuss the piece in the project "installations", under the title "Dust Bowl Refugees".
  • A Topology: For the Coney Island Lode

    I dreamed out the window, my head lost in stars and black prairie night. By dawn we saw faint blue mountains ghosting along the horizon...
    Microsoft Office document icon A Topology: For the Coney Island Lode
  • A Topology

    Recently I was invited to participate in a show of self-portraits by women artists. Rather than work from a mirror I chose to use a photograph of me and my daddy in Colorado, where we spent the summers of my childhood. The right-hand panel is comprised of transparent xeroxes of mining plats (maps); the left-hand, of relics--metal, paper, rubber--from Colorado. We and our mountains are the center. The next image, #7, is an essay I wrote to accompany the image.
  • A Map of Venice

    Looking long afterward into a map of Venice I am abruptly and powerfully entangled in darkness:
    Microsoft Office document icon A Map of Venice
  • a street in Venice

    A few years ago I spent four days in Venice; by day I took about a thousand photographs; by night I walked, enchanted, through the twisting streets. The following writing, which I think of as a poem, and the images in the project "photographs: Italy", are concerned with that time.
  • Monday Mornin' Blues

    …The perfect solution to both dilemmas soon became apparent: arrest and imprison black men and lease them to the railroads, the mines and the factories as a form of slave labor. While the 13th Amendment freed the slaves, it specifically permitted involuntary servitude for “duly convicted” criminals. New laws were written which targeted the freed slaves, making criminal such acts as speaking loudly in the presence of a white woman, quitting a job without permission, or “vagrancy”, which could be construed to suit one’s pleasure.
    Microsoft Office document icon Monday Mornin' Blues
  • Monday Mornin' Blues

    In a recent exhibition I dealt with the imprisonment and virtual slavery of African American men which existed for many decades following Reconstruction. This is a detail of the drawing central to that exhibition; the entire piece can be seen in the project "black and white work". The following essay accompanied it.

women in black and other ladies

My first solo show consisted of men and women, sitting or standing alone, without a narrative. I called it “Waiting for Godeau” and accompanied it with this statement, which can be applied to these more recent women as well:

There's an acting exercise in which each actor, in however small a role, reinterprets the play in the light of his or her own character and takes the lead. These may be minor characters in minor dramas, but here they are the stars.

They are presented outside of time and context, while they were waiting for something else: for a bus, or a lover, or for the day to pass, or for news. For the time when they will light another cigarette. Something has happened here, or something is about to happen, but now they only sit and wait.

(Robert Godeau was a funeral director in San Francisco when I was in school there. I used to pass his sign every day on the bus. I’ve waited 30 years to make this pun.)


Many of these pieces were made simply for the sensual pleasure of working with soft charcoal, thick paint and vibrant color, and a fascination with line, which I approached as if I were following it, as it moved across a page. Many of the pieces in this project, even those not obviously linear, express that fascination. Three of them were part of a larger project, which can be seen here in my projects “moving pictures” and “installations”.

  • Starscape

    Encaustic on wood, 10" x 8"
  • Refractions, Red Black and White

    Encaustic on wood, 10" x 8"
  • Striving (Red)

    oil on canvas, 30" x 30"
  • Out of Memory

    This was an out-take from my animated film, which you can see in the project “moving pictures”. The film explores time and memory; in an earlier version, a web of roots or branches (or cerebral neurons?) eventually grew over and obscured the entire image.
  • A Topology (for the Coney Island lode)

    I was asked to make a self-portrait for a group show a few years ago, and rather than peer in a mirror I chose to work from a photograph of me at age--5? 6?--with my daddy in Colorado, where we spent my childhood summers. This piece includes collaged papers, encaustic, and transparencies of mining plats (in the panel on the right). I wrote an artist's statement to accompany the piece. You can read it in the project entitled "writing".
  • Wheatfield

    oil on Luan, 36" x 26"
  • Refractions, Red and Grey

    oil and sand on canvas, 30" x 30"
  • Seeking Bone

    150” x 78”, acrylic, oil bar, housepaint, charcoal, pastel and roofing tar on vinyl. This is a continuation of the body of work begun with my multi-media installation Timeline, exploring line, arcane theories of the structure of time, and fading memory. It represents a root system, reaching down through soil seeking the bones of the earth.
  • Red Figure in Landscape

    oil on canvas, 24" x 18"

photographs: Italy

I spent two weeks in Italy a few years ago. I missed connections and spent the first night in Toronto; my bag traveled on its own to London and Albania and reluctantly rejoined me in Siena 9 days later; I fell through a trapdoor in a shop in Rome & hurt my knee rather seriously; I had a terrific cold and stomach flu and the weather was, as we say, brutto. It was brilliant. Italy may be the most beautiful place I've ever been. I walked through so many beautiful medieval cities I became blase', thought I was beyond being surprised or impressed, and then I'd turn a corner and stop dead, mouth open, no words available save, you should pardon the expression, "holy shit". When I became thoroughly lost I'd ask directions in my rudimentary Italian and people would walk blocks out of their way, closing up shop if necessary, to take me where I wanted to go, or where they thought it sounded like I wanted to go. I took about a thousand photographs.

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Nancy's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.