Interview: Nancy Gifford
Luca Curci talks with Nancy Gifford during THE EXTENDED BODY and during OUT OF BALANCE, second appointment of CANVAS Art Fair 2020, at THE LINE Contemporary Art Space in London.
Nancy Gifford left Kent State University after the shootings. Modeling was her ticket off the Ohio farm sending her to Europe where she explored all the great museums and galleries, changing her life and focus. Meeting renowned film-makers, musicians, artists and writers pointed her to a new direction for a life in the arts. She began her art career in the early 80’s in Los Angeles, California. She exhibited widely in numerous exhibitions and credits much of her early exposure to the late Henry Hopkins who was a big supporter and champion. She won many emerging artist awards and was shown in a variety of museums nationwide. In the mid 90’s Nancy moved to London and spent the next ten years between England, France and Florida. A member of the Royal Academy of Arts, London and Charter Member of the National Museum of Women, Washington DC. She sat on the Patron Board of MOCA Miami and was a founding member of Wynwood Art District in Miami. In 2008 Nancy moved to Montecito, California and continues to exhibit her art internationally. In 2015 and 2016 she won nine international film festival awards, for Best Experimental Short, for her art video, Imaginary Novels which toured to over 25 festivals worldwide. Her latest honor was the 2018 publication by two art publishers of her collection “Mincing Words” bound for collectors only. In 2020 she set up a winter residence in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her art is primarily narrative. The narrative informs the medium to a great extent and derives from her own history, literature, poetry and the world at large. Her Series can span many decades and often reemerge. As far as influences, Eva Hesse showed she didn’t have to always use paint, Jenny Holzer’s influence brought text into the work, Marcel Duchamp allowed the humor, Anselm Kiefer the scope and scale, Joseph Beuys the pathos, Ann Hamilton the grace and Julian Schnabel said “just keep swimming”.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Nancy Gifford – Art allows me to live a life on my own terms filled with exploration, experimentation and freedom of expression.
LC – What are you currently working on?
NG – I work in series and usually have several going at once. Right now my concerns are expressed by the titles of the Series: CRAZY TIMES, MINCING WORDS, HEAPS of TROUBLE and FRAGMENTS & REMNANTS.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in the society? And the contemporary art?
NG – Hopefully artists can elevate the discourse of society by abstracting or depicting the world around us. Art can be a window into or through our individual realities. Let’s face it, all our lives are unique to ourselves. At best, it can open a door for the viewer to walk through and come out changed in some way. Contemporary art, the art of our times, is uniquely suited to the task because of the immense diversity of viewpoints and mediums which are all finding their way into the canon, unlike ever before.
LC – What is your creative process like?
NG – My work is very labor intensive so requires large amounts of time and physical energy. Also I cannot keep up with all the ideas which crowd my mind and vie to be manifested. So choosing is always a bit stressful.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
NG – The content, focus and materials of my work changes from one Series to another. It is ever changing or I lose interest. By working in Series over long periods of time I can go back and forth to keep it interesting for myself and challenging.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? In which way did it inspire you? In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
NG – You chose my piece “Crazy Times” from my ”Crazy Times” Series. It is from an original drawing of a man in a straight jacket. This segment of your show about Identities is called OUT OF BALANCE, nothing depicts a being or society more out of balance than insanity. The world being Out of Balance is reflected in our psyches being out of balance.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
NG – I found it to be a wonderful opportunity to be a part of the Venice Biennale 2019. I have had several friends and colleagues report they viewed my film when they visited. It has offered me an international audience.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
NG – I found everyone involved professional, courteous and earnest.
LC – What are your suggestions about our services? Is there something more we can provide to artists?
NG – I look forward to visiting a venue in person in the future once COVID subsides and allows us to travel internationally again.