About Nancy Ring
Acclaimed artist and former pastry chef, Nancy Ring, supported her painting career for several years in Manhattan’s two and three-star restaurants. She chronicled some of these experiences in her critically acclaimed memoir, Walking On Walnuts, Bantam, 1996, filled with thirteen of her drawings, (national media, regional bestseller.) On her book tour, she appeared on many television and radio shows and lectured at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.
Ring earned her MFA in Painting from The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pa., where she was nominated for the Robert Motherwell Foundation Dedalus Award in Painting, and is a graduate cum laude of Syracuse University School of Visual and Performing Arts. A transplanted Manhattanite, she lives in northern New Jersey and is the proud mother of a twenty-two-year-old son, a musician based in Memphis.
Artist Personal Website: www.nanringstudio.com
The societal changes mentioned in the exhibition statement – economic uncertainty, identity shifts, and dramatic environmental transformations – have brought a reckoning. Women’s “perception of place” in this context becomes a larger idea wherein our very skin, our bodies, our interior thoughts, feelings and responses are also spaces in which we live. This interiority and its importance to understanding each other and our individual stories is the subject of the paintings that I have submitted. How we fit in — or not — to our bodies, our skin, our society and the planet is dependent on excavating our innermost selves.
In subject matter and sensibility, I have been called “an intimist,” a word coined by a mentor who understood my obsession as an artist with detail and the intimate, small moment. My intention is to create visual poetry; to bring the invisible, the unknown, the deeply felt but intangible, into the light. I am often addressing questions in my work about how the human body experiences the world, both the beauty and the burden of that experience. I love the body and all it contains; its memory, form, desire and emotion. Veils interest me because of the way they disrupt the figure and change the silhouette. Their transparency creates intricacy and mystery — shrouding, shielding — that I find satisfying visually and emotionally, and I like the way they invite multiple interpretations of ceremony, costume, disguise, or ritual. Performed in by models, predominantly family and other members of my community, the garments are designed to communicate the emotions of the body such as longing, desire, joy, and many others.
Common themes in my work include feminism, gender politics, the female gaze and ephemerality. The series of submitted works I call “Veiled Figures,” are painted in a mixture of Prussian blue, raw umber and white oil paint, a Flemish old master technique that I sometimes finish with transparent glazes painted in layers like sheets of colored glass. The light passes through the layers creating the color. I also use watercolor and gouache because their flowing quality lends itself to looser depictions of the body that I create to communicate the fluidity of inner states of being. Primarily a painter, my paintings sometimes exist in conversation with other media such as photography, poetry, drawing and sewing. I love slow, meditative processes like this that speak to the need today for stillness and reflection in the face of a world in crisis dominated by speed, drama and spectacle. I take my own black and white reference photographs with a Nikon FE film camera gifted to me by my late father, and develop my film in the darkroom. The long hours spent in meditation and observation of a subject to translate it into a detailed painting inspired by a darkroom photo is an element of the finished piece that is extremely important to me; contemporary life is rushed, and we don’t often have the opportunity to slow down to be fully present with our world. I first experienced an appreciation of the handmade from makers in my family, particularly the women who knitted, tatted, crocheted, embroidered, baked and cooked, taking their time to make fine handmade objects that all bore the print of the maker and the obvious signs of hours and hours of careful, patient craft. Even the recipes, handed down to me, an avid baker, were handwritten, with the fingerprints and notations of the pastry maker preserved as a valued part of the inheritance. I grew up on stories of strong ancestors who survived hardships with imagination and persistence, tools that as an artist I count among my most essential.
Exhibitions and Awards
Nancy Ring has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards for her fine art, such as the Vermont Studio Center Artist’s Fellowship Award in Painting, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation/NEA Fellowship Award in Works on Paper, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Artists’ Fellowship Award in Drawing. She has been awarded artist-in-residence fellowships and studios at Hambidge Center, GA, Castle Hill, MASS, I–Park Foundation, CT, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Soaring Gardens, PA, Ucross Foundation and Brush Creek Foundation, both WY, chaNorth, NY, Djerrassi, CA, the Montalvo Center for the Arts, CA, and The Vermont Studio Center.
Her paintings and drawings have been exhibited at The Painting Center, New York, N.Y., 14C Art Fair, Jersey City, N.J., The Visual Arts Center, Summit NJ, winning an honorable mention in painting in their 25th Silver Anniversary Juried Exhibit, Drawing Rooms, Jersey City, 73 See Gallery, Montclair, NJ, Crane Arts Center, PA, The Drawing Center, New York, N.Y., The Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, N.Y., Gallery Henoch, New York, N.Y., and P.S. 122 Gallery, New York, N.Y., among others. Her solo exhibition at the New Jersey Arts Incubator in West Orange, NJ, garnered an enthusiastic review from Dan Bischoff in the Star Ledger. Her work is included in prominent public collections such as Prudential Insurance, Coca Cola, Phillip Morris, and others.