About the Artist
The 440 Gallery
presents: HEX by Nancy Lunsford
Nancy Lunsford opens her third solo exhibition at the 440 Gallery with "HEX", a show of drawings, paintings and assemblage. The exhibition runs April 2nd through May 10 with an opening reception on Thursday April 2, 6 - 9 pm.
HEX refers to the hexagon, a recurring shape in the work, and also suggests hex as a spell or a curse. The work is dominated by the geometry of traditional Appalachian quilt patterns: one large canvas is a honey colored maze of hexagons and some wall-mounted sculptures are constructed in the traditional "contained crazy" pattern. There are also drawings that represent the hexadecimal base 16 numeral system (hex) used in computer engineering, the artist's nod toward the blessing and curse of the digital revolution. Noting the universal recurrence of geometric patterns in nature, folk art and even the pixilation of contemporary image making, the artist states "It is not so much the content but the shape and patterns themselves that have the power to mesmerize".
Lunsford was steeped in the folk art and music of her native Appalachian upbringing and received a BA in Art History and English Literature from NYU. She later studied traditional Indonesian art forms at the National Art Academy in Jakarta, sculpture in Italy and animation at NYU.
Ms. Lunsford recently participated in an exhibition at Apel Gallery in Istanbul Turkey and in 2008 had a solo show at the Brooklyn Artists' Gym. One of the founders of 440 Gallery, Lunsford shows regularly in the 440 members gallery and had two previous solo shows here, "Pieces" in 2006 and "Reclaiming Red" in 2005.
The gallery is free and open to the public on Thursdays and Fridays from 4 - 7 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 - 6 pm.
For several years I have been exploring geometric shapes and their manifestation in traditional folk art and nature. This has become an obsession, and like all obsessions both a blessing and a curse. Patterns are inherently restrictive: a set of limitations, predictable, but with a sense of comfort and order. Yet, we need chaos, change and surprise in order to thrive. I am drawn to the nexus of these two ideas: order and chaos.
My "Contained Crazy" pieces are triangular relief, constructed of individual elements that are arranged in a pattern of hexagons and smaller triangles. The individual elements are created randomly with no preconceived idea of how they will fit together. As the work is constructed, various pieces are rearranged like the pieces in a puzzle, searching for the best fit. The overall pattern is immutable, but the randomly chosen colors and forms of the elements are juxtaposed in jarring or reverberating relationships.
I have also returned to simple drawing: graphite on paper. Just as the simple binary code of a computer is the vehicle for incredibly complex expression, the simplicity of black marks on white paper can produce nuance, subtlety, or raw power. The universal recurrence of certain patterns in nature (spirals, hexagons, grids of crystals or compressed cells) are echoed in man made expression (quilts, weaving, ben-day dots and pixilation). And so goes my obsession: honeycombs penciled on a canvas and portraits dissected into quilt blocks. It is not so much the content but the shape and patterns themselves that have the power to mesmerize.
Nancy Lunsford (b. 1950, Greenville, South Carolina, USA) began her professional career at a young age doing portraits, illustration and courtroom sketching in Nashville Tennessee. After classes at the Art Student's League and the Brooklyn Museum Art School, she studied art history at New York University with an emphasis on Asian and African cultures. Upon graduation, she moved to Jakarta Indonesia where she immersed herself in the indigenous culture of Southeast Asia, studying the Wayang (shadow theater), batik and traditional Javanese court dance.
She continued to paint and after moving again, this time to Ankara Turkey, she exhibited her work at Urart Gallery and wrote art criticism for the Turkish Daily News. Lunsford's six years in Turkey were pivotal in her development as an artist. She was part of a lively artistic community and continues this association through Apel Galeri in Istanbul, run by Nuran Terzioglu. Lunsford's abiding interest in shadow theater led her to Metin And, an authority on traditional Turkish theater who encouraged her study of Karagöz and urged her to experiment with new media in developing modern shadow theater. Lunsford's contemporary production "Gölgeli Oyunu" was staged at the British Council for the first Sanart Arts Symposium in 1992
Upon her return to the United States, she ran a small gallery in Brooklyn, Wisteria Artspace where she curated monthly exhibitions and staged small theatrical productions, including shadow theater. She collaborated with Jill Renier and Peggy Swain on a series of shadow shows based on Caribbean folk tales. During this time Lunsford expanded her performance skills by studying comedy with Rob Weinstein, which led to a stint as a stand up comic.
She collaborated with Gerard Barbot in installations at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition and the Williamsburg Art And Historical Center. Her work is in the WAH collection. She took courses in painting and anatomy with David Klass at the New York Academy of Art and studied sculpture with Paul Lucchesi in Italy. She recently contributed to an award winning anthology of essays "Tales from the Expat Harem, Foreign Women in Modern Turkey".
A weekly session, sketching from the model in her Brooklyn studio led to the founding of 440 Gallery with fellow artist Shanee Epstein. This artist run collective sponsors solo and group shows for its members and an annual juried small works show.
Lunsford's current work reflects a return to her Appalachian roots. Inspired by the patterned and embroidered quilts of her grandmothers, she is creating collages and paintings based on traditional quilt patterns using pages from her sketchbooks and other ephemera. The work is playful, political and personal