Thursday, November 17, 2011

Look at America

OK, I know when you read the title of this post, you were expecting me to rant about some political development, but in fact Look at America is the title of my most recent piece, part of the Running Stitch series. The title comes from the spine of a book I used in the work. It was a large, pale green book published by Look Magazine that was a photographic journey through the U.S.  I have to confess that I have never really looked at the book; I was more interested in the cover. (BTW, click on pics to enlarge.)

Look at America, detail 1, showing the book title

My intention with this post was to first post the image of the piece and then flesh it out with some details, but maybe I should post the details and then the whole image at the end. We'll see how it goes.

So, this work was the first one I made on a complete panel that's 30" H x 60" W. I have made others that were wider but none that were quite this dimension. I liked working on it and it feels substantial (good over the couch size), however, I decided to divide it up into sections so it looks as if it could actually be made on three joined panels.

Detail 2 showing graphic elements

I made Look at America right after making the two pieces that I do not consider part of the Running Stitch but instead part of a new group called The Dark Series. (Here's my post on it.) As a result, I think some of The Dark Series rubbed off on this work. I felt a need to put in more graphic and bolder elements. Also, because of the larger size, the elements are wider - and there's a lot of black in this new work.

Detail 3 showing more graphic elements with metal, text and paint

I confess that I had some trouble with this piece. I made it one way, wasn't too happy with it, experimented with adding elements here and there, and then ended up really taking it all apart and putting it back together again. My concern was to make it less symmetrical, more complex and richer. My resolution involved first making it more symmetrical than the first layout and then destroying the symmetry to a certain extent.

Detail 4 showing a non-standard element

I also wanted to put in some pieces that had a different shape than the horizontal strips to interrupt the regularity.

Here's the whole piece: Look at America, 30" x 60" x 1.75", mixed media with encaustic on panel.
Be sure to click and enlarge.

My intention with this work was to reference landscape but not really depict it. There are pieces of maps in there and the combination of green, brown and blue could be earth, trees and sky. But I didn't want it to be a literal representation of place. After all, the Running Stitch series is about memory, so perhaps this is about memory of landscape rather than landscape itself. The black sections could be roads or they could be gaps in memory (or they could just be formal elements in the painting).

Of course it's hard to get a sense of this large and pretty complicated work in this small format, and this image is also not the good one taken by my professional photographer and lit so you can see more reflections of the tacks and metal pieces. However, I hope that seeing so many details will give you a better sense of what's going on in it.


Hylla Evans said...

This is my favorite so far. I love the drawing and painting elements within the overall 'map.' The colors are lovely and emotionally light, so the whole piece looks uplifting.

Catherine Nash: Desert Paper, Book and Wax said...

Superb piece, Nancy. I appreciate your ideas and content...congrats! (I am a fan!)

CMC said...

Waaay cool,, Nancy. Love it.

Ann Knickerbocker said...

"Look at America" is really wonderful... The lines and spaces between are beautifully softened... Really fine!

Anonymous said...

Very strong, energetic piece!

Wendy Rodrigue Magnus said...

This is magnificent, Nancy. I'm tempted to jump on a plane to see it in person!

Nancy Natale said...

Thank you all for your comments! I hope you get to see it in person one of these days.

Gwendolyn Plunkett said...

Love this piece, Nancy and also, how you write about your process of making it. Great post, as usual!

Gwendolyn Plunkett said...

Love this piece, Nancy, and also how your describe your process of making it.

Sue said...

The details really make me aware about how complex this piece is. Great artwork, Nancy!